Mikel Arteta admits he has concerns about Arsenal's attacking play and not only the goalscoring drought of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gunners have lost back-to-back Premier League games 1-0 to Manchester City and Leicester City and have failed to score more than twice in any of their previous eight matches in all competitions.

After having an Alexandre Lacazette goal disallowed early in the first half, Arsenal attempted just one shot in the second period against Leicester before Jamie Vardy's 80th-minute winner.

This season, Arsenal are averaging just 8.8 shots per match in the league – their lowest such figure since at least 1997-98 – and 1.3 goals per game, their worst rate in 25 years.

Aubameyang has scored just once in six league games in 2020-21 and has an expected goals per game rating of only 0.07, by far the lowest in his Gunners career.

But Arteta, who has omitted playmaker Mesut Ozil from his Premier League and Europa League squads, thinks his side's overall attacking approach needs to improve.

"I think there were two different halves [against Leicester]," he told reporters ahead of Thursday's match with Dundalk.

"The first half we interpreted really well what the game needed. We were dominant and aggressive. We won the ball back in really good areas. We didn't give the ball away in any dangerous areas, we created enough chances to go ahead but we didn't manage to do that.

"We scored a goal that was disallowed and the second half we started fatigue-wise to make more mistakes in more difficult areas and not be as threatening as we should have been to finalise the game.

"The moment we created open space they had a really good action and we conceded a goal. We lost the game on a very small margin and I'm disappointed because we should have done a bit better there.

"I'm concerned in the second half that we should have done better. We only had the chance from Hector [Bellerin] but they didn't have anything until after 75 or 80 minutes, but it's still something we have to improve on. To attack better and to sustain attacks in long periods. We've been working on that, so hopefully we can improve it.

"The pressure is related to this football game that you have to win every game. We didn't win against Leicester or Man City. Consider the demands everybody puts on us because we are the club that we are and that should never change.

"In the last eight to 10 months, the improvement of teams, quality and organisation has been the biggest I've seen than in the last few years. It's not a coincidence, you can see that in every Premier League game. The league is in a great place at the moment."

Arsenal will be without David Luiz against Dundalk and Arteta said the Brazilian is also a doubt for Sunday's league game against Manchester United.

Willian could return this week after resuming training, while Bukayo Saka is fully fit again after a knock.

"We try to go game by game, but in the last 10 days we have had a lot of issues at the back with central defenders," Arteta said. "If we lose another one, we're in big trouble.

"We have to keep an eye on it and how to manage the squad."

Mikel Arteta was unsurprised to have his use of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang questioned with the Arsenal attacker struggling to match his goalscoring prowess of previous seasons.

Aubameyang has primarily played from the left under Arteta, despite also proving adept as a central striker during his two and a half years at Emirates Stadium. 

Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, only Mohamed Salah (60) has scored more than the Gabon international's haul of 55. 

Prior to the start of the 2020-21 campaign, Aubameyang averaged a top-flight goal every 128 minutes. This season, however, that has dipped to one goal every 450 minutes. 

Asked if the solution to Aubameyang's goalscoring troubles is to play him through the middle, Arteta responded: "Always the question when he doesn't score is, 'Why doesn't he play as a nine?' Then you move him to the nine it's, 'Why did you not keep him on the left because he has been so successful from the left?' This will happen, I know." 

Aubameyang came in for criticism on social media for his display in Arsenal's 1-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend, with footage of him laughing with former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Ilkay Gundogan after the final whistle not going down well either. 

"The expectation for him is that he has to score a goal every game, so this comes with the nature of the big player that he is, what he's done in the past and what people expect from him in the future," Arteta said of the criticism. 

"He needs to handle that and we are here to support him when difficult times are around him." 

According to Opta, Aubameyang is yet to have a 'big chance' in the Premier League this season; prior to the start of 2020-21 he averaged one every 90 minutes. 

However, the 31-year-old came off the bench and scored the winner as Arsenal came from behind to defeat Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday. 

"He needs to get in more goalscoring opportunities, he needs to get the ball more in the box to do what he needs to do," said Arteta. 

"It's a different game obviously to play against some of the big teams we have played this season, we have already played five games out of seven against top opposition. 

"I asked him before the game [on Thursday], to come on and win the game for us. He did it, I am happy." 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench to rescue Arsenal on Thursday as they got their Europa League campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Rapid Vienna.

The club captain scored just four minutes after David Luiz had equalised as the Gunners fought back to win the Group B clash after a Bernd Leno mistake saw them fall behind early in the second half.

Thomas Partey made his first start for the club in a match from which Rapid will feel they should have taken something, with goalscorer Taxiarchis Fountas unable to capitalise on further Leno errors.

Rapid had 12 shots to Arsenal's 11 but could not avenge a 6-2 aggregate defeat in their only previous meeting back in the 1991-92 European Cup.

Arsenal managed more yellow cards (three) than shots on target (one) in the first half, with Thomas going into the book for a stray elbow on Fountas. 

The best chances fell to David Luiz, who saw a header well saved by Richard Strebinger, and Marcel Ritzmaier, whose clever backheel almost deflected beyond Leno.

It was Leno at fault for the opening goal, though, the Gunners keeping failing to clear under pressure, allowing Fountas to drill a good finish into the bottom-right corner after the ball fell his way.

Another loose kick allowed Fountas to drive towards the penalty area, but this time Leno was on hand to block his low strike.

The Gunners drew level with 20 minutes remaining, Nicolas Pepe's deep free-kick glanced in by David Luiz, who rose unchallenged in the heart of the penalty area.

Just after another Leno error had given Fountas the chance to restore Rapid's lead, Arsenal struck again. Mohamed Elneny slid a ball through to Hector Bellerin and Aubameyang was on hand to tap in his cut-back.

 

What does it mean? Gunners unconvincing but up and running

This is probably the toughest of Arsenal's group games on paper, so Mikel Arteta will be thrilled to have taken all three points even if the performance left much to be desired.

He will not have been overly pleased at having to bring on Aubameyang to get the result they wanted, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah ineffective.

They are level with Molde on three points, two goals scored and one conceded after the Norwegian side won away to Dundalk.

Thomas ticking along

Thomas looked comfortable at the heart of the midfield, admittedly with Rapid's central trio not offering a great deal of opposition when Arsenal had the ball.

The £45million man won five tackles, more than any team-mate, completed 90.2 per cent of his passes and contested 13 duels.

Leno lunacy

Few Arsenal players performed to their best, but Leno's loose kicking and decision-making cost his side one goal and could easily have led to two others.

Among Premier League goalkeepers since the start of 2018-19, only Jordan Pickford (11) and David de Gea (nine) have made more errors leading to goals in all competitions than Arsenal's number one.

What's next?

Arsenal host Dundalk on matchday two next Thursday, after a Premier League clash with Leicester City this Sunday. Rapid's second group game is away to Molde.

Mikel Arteta is unconcerned by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's slow start in front of goal for Arsenal this season.

Gabon striker Aubameyang has scored just a solitary goal in five appearances Premier League for the Gunners so far this season.

The 31-year-old was Arsenal's top scorer in the previous campaign with 29 goals in all competitions and signed a lucrative new three-year deal in September.

However, speaking at a news conference on the eve of Arsenal's Europa League Group B clash with Rapid Vienna, Arteta claimed he is not worried about Aubameyang's profligacy.

"With all the strikers if you ask when they don't score for two or three games if there are concerns in my opinion the performance was not a cause of this," Arteta said.

"He could have scored again on Saturday in a one-vs-one situation that normally he does. It's trying to get in better positions as frequently as we can to try to give him the best possible chance."

Thursday's fixture will be the first meeting between Rapid Vienna and Arsenal, with the Gunners' last facing Austrian opponents in the 1991-92 European Cup where they beat Austria Wien 6-1 at home before losing 0-1 on the road.

Arsenal are taking part in the Europa League for a fourth straight season, having reached the semi-final in 2017-18, the final in 2018-19 and the Last 32 in 2019-20.

Arteta is confident Arsenal will be able to juggle the competing interests of the Premier League and the Europa League.

He said: "We are really excited to be playing back in Europe again after a difficult season where we had to earn our right to play here through winning the FA Cup.

"Obviously it's a big bonus for us, we want to make the most out of it in every competition we are involved in. Our aim is to try to win it.

"Time will tell. Depending what happens, depending on how this COVID-19 situation evolves, depending on the injuries, I believe we have the squad to try and fit until the last moment.

"What we are looking for in this competition is to go as far as possible and win it."

Arteta also hinted Thomas Partey, who joined Arsenal from Atletico Madrid on deadline day, will be in contention to make his first start for the club after a late cameo in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City.

"He looked strong and confident and brought something positive to the team," Arteta said of the Ghana midfielder.

"Since he joined us, he only had a day, day and a half, training. He has now done a few more training sessions and looks ready to start."

Deadline day is upon us once again as teams across Europe clamour to get those final pieces of the jigsaw completed in a race against the clock.

Transfers often go down to the wire as teams take time to assess their squads and this season's business has of course been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Several huge moves have occurred on the last day of the window in the past but just how much does it pay to go big at the last minute?

Looking at the biggest deals to occur on deadline days in the Premier League in the past, and using a sprinkling of Opta data, we take a look.
 

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG TO ARSENAL - £56m

Aubameyang arrived at Arsenal amid much fanfare from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 and has been an unmitigated success. In 89 Premier League appearances, the Gabon striker has scored 55 goals – including notching braces on 12 occasions – equating to a goal every 132 minutes. He also has a big-chance conversion rate of 49 per cent, has provided 13 assists and created 76 chances for his team-mates. The Gunners captain recently penned a new three-year deal and inspired Mikel Arteta's side to FA Cup glory last season.

Verdict: Success


FERNANDO TORRES TO CHELSEA - £50m

Judging Torres' time at Chelsea is a tricky one. On the face of it, he became a Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League winner during three-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge. But the Spain World Cup winner never really lived up to the huge transfer fee the Blues forked out to Liverpool, where he was so prolific. In total there were just 20 goals in 110 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, a poor return considering the fee.

Verdict: Failure


MESUT OZIL TO ARSENAL - £42m

It is easy to forget given his current situation at Arsenal, where game time is proving very difficult to come by, just how good Ozil has been at times since joining from Real Madrid in September 2013. With 33 goals and 54 assists from 184 Premier League games, Ozil has been a valuable playmaker for the Gunners. He has created 559 opportunities for team-mates, including 65 big chances, and the World Cup winner also has three FA Cup medals to his name. Ozil has been increasingly isolated in the Unai Emery and Arteta eras and there is a sense that he has not quite fully lived up to his billing.

Verdict: 50/50


ANTHONY MARTIAL TO MANCHESTER UNITED - £36m

When the Red Devils signed Martial from Monaco in September 2015 then-boss Louis van Gaal said the fee was "ridiculous" but he was purchased with the next manager of Manchester United in mind. Over the following five years Martial has been as frustrating as he has been brilliant, capable of the extraordinary but also wildly lacking in consistency. Still, there have been 51 goals and 23 assists in 148 top-flight appearances, with a goal every 200 minutes. Martial's big-chance conversion is at 55 per cent, while he has created 160 opportunities for team-mates – 35 of which are big chances. Throw in trophies in the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League and Martial has been a solid purchase.

Verdict: Success


ANDY CARROLL TO LIVERPOOL - £35m

Signed by Kenny Dalglish on the same day as Luis Suarez arrived from Ajax in January 2011, Carroll never lived up to his hefty price tag and it was instead his fellow new arrival who flourished. The former England striker did win an EFL Cup and reach an FA Cup final during his time on Merseyside but managed a measly six Premier League goals and was shipped off to West Ham on loan in August 2012 – he joined them permanently the following year. He has since returned to boyhood club Newcastle United.

Verdict: Failure


ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN TO LIVERPOOL - £35m

A few eyebrows were raised when Liverpool gambled on signing Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal in August 2017, given he had shown flashes of the prodigious talent that convinced the Gunners to bring him to north London from Southampton as a teenager but lacked consistency. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a solid performer for Jurgen Klopp's side and that despite a serious knee injury that robbed him of a year of his career in April 2018. The England international is now a Premier League and Champions League winner with the Reds, while he has seven goals and eight assists in the top flight despite not being a first-team regular.

Verdict: Success


DANNY DRINKWATER TO CHELSEA - £35m

Drinkwater was a very late signing for the Blues in the same window, arriving at the club's training ground just an hour before the business had to be concluded. On the face of it, the signing made sense – Drinkwater was a Premier League winner in Leicester City's unlikely title triumph and had formed a great partnership with N'Golo Kante, who had joined Chelsea the season before. But with only 12 Premier League appearances, one goal, no assists and just five chances created the move has proven a really woeful one for both parties. Loans at Burnley and Aston Villa proved fruitless for Drinkwater.

Verdict: Failure


Overall verdict:

The truth is that any transfer always comes with its pitfalls and signing players on the last day of a window can sometimes be viewed as panic buying. But there have undoubtedly been success stories in the past and, quite frankly, we all love the drama don't we? Long may it continue…

The goals continued to flow in the Premier League at the weekend, but not quite at the same rate as the previous matchday had seen.

There was a first for Pep Guardiola as Manchester City were thumped 5-2 by Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium, while Manchester United overcame Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 in a thriller that was decided by a penalty scored after the final whistle.

Chelsea came back from three goals down to earn a point at West Brom, while West Ham put four past Wolves and kept a clean sheet despite manager David Moyes not being present due to a positive coronavirus test.

Not everyone stayed on brand, though. Leeds United's first two games included 14 goals but they only edged out Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane, while Southampton beat Burnley by the same scoreline.

Still, at least there wasn't a single 0-0!

With the help of Opta, we took a look at some of the more unusual stats to have emerged over the weekend.
 

PROLIFIC WITHOUT PENALTIES

Richarlison took his Premier League tally to 32 goals in Everton's 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace, but it was his first from the penalty spot. It is far from unusual for an attacker to rack up an impressive number of strikes without the assistance of spot-kicks, though. Les Ferdinand is the most prolific forward to not score a single penalty in the Premier League, with none of his 149 top-flight goals coming from the spot. In fact, rather than Richarlison, it's another player on Merseyside among the leaders in this category. Sadio Mane has scored 86 goals in the Premier League and not a single one was a penalty, putting him fourth on the list behind Emile Heskey (110) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (91).

KANE CHASING HENRY AND CESC

Harry Kane may have only scored one league goal this season, but the England captain has undoubtedly been in fine form. By setting up Lucas Moura's opener in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle United on Sunday he became only the third player to supply five assists across the opening three matchdays of a Premier League season – a feat only previously achieved by Ruel Fox for the Magpies in 1994-95 and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for United in 2017-18. Another assist against the Red Devils this weekend would see Kane match Thierry Henry (2004-05) and Cesc Fabregas (2014-15) with six from four matchdays, while two would be a new Premier League record.

WOLVES' PORTU-GEEZERS

A lot has been made of Jorge Mendes' influence at Wolves, which has seen an influx of Portuguese talent at Molineux. The latest such addition is defender Nelson Semedo, who became the 14th Portuguese player to appear in the Premier League for Wolves by debuting in the 4-0 loss to West Ham on Sunday. It is far from the greatest affinity between a Premier League club and players from a specific country, though. The 27 Frenchmen to turn out for Arsenal represents a joint record alongside Sunderland's 27 Irish players. Another appearance by a player from France would see Newcastle (26) draw level as well.

686 AND OUT

City's 5-2 hammering at the hands of City on Sunday represented the first time in 686 games as a manager that Guardiola has seen one of his teams concede five goals. Among Premier League title-winning bosses still active in the top flight, Guardiola lasted the longest by some distance. Carlo Ancelotti first saw one of his teams ship five in his 106th game as a coach (Parma's 5-2 loss to Sampdoria in January 1998), while it happened to Jurgen Klopp in his 209th match (Mainz's 6-1 defeat to Werder Bremen in October 2006). The first time it happened to Mourinho was in his 471st game, when Guardiola's Barcelona claimed a 5-0 victory over Real Madrid in November 2010.

INGS-DEPENDENT

Danny Ings was one goal away from sharing the Golden Boot with Jamie Vardy last season and he's continued his prolific form in 2020-21, scoring three times in as many top-flight appearances. Since the start of last season Ings has scored 25 of Southampton's 54 Premier League goals, which equates to 46 per cent. No other team has been as dependent on a single goalscorer, though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (23 of 61 - 38 per cent) and Jamie Vardy (28 of 79 - 35 per cent) are in close contention.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had opportunities to leave Arsenal but has cited manager Mikel Arteta as a key factor in him electing to remain at Emirates Stadium.

Aubameyang penned a three-year extension in north London earlier this month to end mounting speculation.

Barcelona and Inter were among the elite European clubs linked to the 31-year-old, who conceded he was tempted by a fresh challenge.

"I was thinking about it to tell you the truth because I had good opportunities as well," he told Sky Sports.

"But this feeling to be here - the love from the fans and all the club - I'm not sure that by leaving I will receive the same love, so that's why I'm staying.

"I'm really proud to be the captain but it's not the biggest factor to stay. Of course, it's a great job to do but it was not a part of me staying here."

Captaincy and an adoring fanbase aside, it was Arteta - who frequently expressed his confidence that Aubameyang would re-sign - that had a major influence upon the Gabon international's decision with regards to where his career lay.

"Since he came in, he brings a lot of positivity and a new philosophy for us," Aubameyang said.

"I think that was important because it matched my game and I feel that I can improve with him. I think this was the key factor."

Aubameyang added: "We had a chat during lockdown and we were supposed to talk about a game and he said, 'Okay, forget about it, we're going to talk about the future' and he asked me what I wanted to do.

"I was like, 'I feel good since you came, I'm improving, and the philosophy is very, very nice so I just want to stay' and he was like, ''I'm sure if you stay you can leave a legacy, but it's all about you and what you want. Of course, you can leave and go for trophies in big clubs as well, but I think you can create a legacy here in this great club.'

"This was the key message to me and after that conversation I was like, 'Okay, it's all clear for me and I just want to stay' and that's it."

Aubameyang swiftly made good on Arteta's legacy plans by scoring both goals in Arsenal's 2-1 FA Cup final win over Chelsea, having also netted a brace in the semi-final win over Manchester City.

He also scored a brilliant goal and netted the decisive penalty in last month's Community Shield success over Liverpool, continuing a phenomenal recent record at Wembley.

Mikel Arteta has revealed he was not always confident Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would commit his future to the club.

Aubameyang, who scored in the Gunners' opening Premier League win at Fulham, signed a new three-year deal at Emirates Stadium this week.

A successful resolution to negotiations had been hinted at since the end of last season, with Arteta positive when discussing a possible renewal, even with Aubameyang's initial contract up at the end of the campaign.

But the Arsenal manager says such optimism was not always there, having identified that the club's tight finances might prove an issue.

"At the start, when I joined, I wasn't as positive as I was a few weeks ago," said Arteta, who was appointed in December.

"Obviously, financially, we were in a position where it was difficult to get what we wanted to get, and I think Auba had his doubts at the time.

"But things evolved in a natural way and I had a feeling that the club wanted to move forward.

"I had a feeling that Auba wanted to stay here and we were just trying to put those things together. That can sometimes take some time, but if the outcome is what we both wanted then we're happy.

"I played my part, which is part of my job, to try to explain to him what we are trying to do and how important he would be while we are building."

Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 and has since scored 55 times in the Premier League, as well as winning the FA Cup last season.

The 31-year-old was linked with moves to Barcelona and Inter before signing new terms in London.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed a new deal with Arsenal because he is at an incredible football club as big as those looking to prise him away, according to Mikel Arteta.

Aubameyang on Tuesday signed a new three-year contract with the Gunners. Barcelona were said to have made a concrete offer for his services, with Inter also reported to be interested.

Having previously been thought to be considering his future prior to Arteta's arrival as manager in December, Aubameyang is now tied to Arsenal until June 2023.

However, Arteta rejected talk of him being the primary reason in Aubameyang's decision to stay.

The Spaniard told a media conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with West Ham: "I think the big reason why Auba is staying is because we have an incredible football team, football club.

"We have some fantastic people working here and because he feels as well how much love he's got from the fans.

"I played my part, which is part of my job to explain what we are trying to do and how important he was going to be and what we are building and that's it.

"The size of our club is as big as those names [Barca, Inter] and that's why I'm saying the most important thing is the football club, what we inspire, who we are as a club and what we can achieve in the future as well and how we explain what we are trying to do to make sure the players believe in our project.

"It's a joy to work with him, we have a really transparent relationship. We've been very clear with each other what we are trying to do, how big of a part he was in my plans for now and for the future and the way he trains, the way he behaves himself, the way he performs is exactly what I want from him.

"I want him to do that again consistently in the next few years."

Arsenal are poised to add to their squad with the signing of Dijon goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson, with Arteta - who dismissed questions about potential moves for midfielders Houssem Aouar and Thomas Partey - indicating an announcement is imminent.

Runarsson is set to replace Emiliano Martinez, who left for Aston Villa this week.

Arteta added: "Obviously with the departure of Emi, which is a big loss, we have to replace him and we've been looking in the market and I think we'll be shortly in a position to announce our new signing."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ended speculation over his future by signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal.

The Gunners captain's previous deal was due to expire next June, but he has agreed to re-sign with the Premier League club.

Prolific striker Aubameyang has scored 72 goals in 111 appearances since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £56million in January 2018.

"Signing for this special club was never in doubt," Aubameyang told Arsenal's official website.

"It's thanks to our fans, my team-mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here.

"I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is to come for Arsenal."

In his first full season with Arsenal in 2018-19, Aubameyang scored 22 goals to be a joint winner of the Premier League Golden Boot.

Last term, the 31-year-old enjoyed another superb campaign, with 29 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions.

He scored both of the Gunners' goals in each of their respective FA Cup semi-final and final victories over Manchester City and Chelsea and continued his superb Wembley form with a fabulous strike in last month's Community Shield encounter with Liverpool, which Mikel Arteta's side won on penalties.

As speculation mounted over Aubameyang's future, Arteta expressed confidence he would sign renewed terms and the manager is delighted to have got his man.

"It was important for Pierre-Emerick to stay with us," he said. "He’s a superb player with an incredible mentality.

"Being the player to have taken the least amount of time to reach 50 goals with this club tells you everything you need to know about him and his way of working. 

"He's an important leader for the team and a big part of what we're building. He wants to be up there with the best players in the world and leave his mark. He can achieve that here."

Arsenal began their Premier League campaign with a 3-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage, where Aubameyang completed the scoring, and they are back in action at home to West Ham on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ended speculation over his future by signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal.

The Gunners captain's previous deal was due to expire next June, but he has agreed to re-sign with the Premier League club.

Prolific striker Aubameyang has scored 72 goals in 111 appearances since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £56million in January 2018.

 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes for good news on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's contract "in the next few days".

The Gabon striker scored the Gunners' third as they eased to a 3-0 win at Fulham in their first match of the 2020-21 Premier League season on Saturday.

Aubameyang has hit 55 goals in the top flight since his debut on February 4, 2018, which is more than any other player in the competition in that time.

However, the 31-year-old's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months, with his contract expiring in 20201.

Arteta stated this week that Arsenal fans could feel "pretty relaxed" about the player's future and he suggested again on Saturday that a positive update is around the corner.

"I'm really positive we're going to get it done and in the next few days hopefully we have some news," he told BT Sport.

Arteta was thrilled with his side's performance against Fulham, who had no response to the goals from Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and debutant Gabriel.

Willian also enjoyed an impressive first outing for the Gunners, forcing the chance for Lacazette to open the scoring before assisting his side's further two goals.

"I wanted to see my team determined to come to this difficult ground against a really good team and do the things that we trained and show the spirit we showed again today," Arteta said.

"They've been training really well. For Gabriel, it was a big challenge to come to this small ground in the Premier League. I think he didn't play for six months with everything that happened in France.

"Mo Elneny again I thought did brilliant today. All the boys tried really hard; the ones that came on have to push these guys again."

He said of Lacazette, whose own future has been somewhat uncertain: "Yes, he is in my plans, he's a player I like a lot, but he knows he has Eddie [Nketiah] at his back, or next to him, I would say, and whoever is in better shape is going to play.

"It's the same for the rest of the team."

Arteta added that Rob Holding, who was tipped to join Newcastle United on loan, is now set to stay at Arsenal.

"I said to him 'change your mind because you're not going anywhere'," he said.

"Rob is another who stands for every value we want at the football club. He had a really difficult time but he trained and why would I have to let him go? He's already playing, what more do you want?"

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal debutant Willian matched famous feats from the club's history in the Gunners' 3-0 win against sorry Fulham on Saturday.

Following up their FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs, Mikel Arteta's side started their Premier League season in style at Craven Cottage.

Alexandre Lacazette got an eighth-minute opener, before Willian teed up his Brazilian compatriot and fellow new arrival Gabriel to score from a corner.

Willian had a second assist on his debut soon after when he played in Aubameyang, with the former Chelsea midfielder becoming the first Arsenal player to provide two assists on his Premier League bow for the club since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.

Aubameyang's strike was also notable, as Opta confirmed he became the first Gunner to score on matchday one in consecutive Premier League campaigns since Robert Pires in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

The Gabon forward finished as Arsenal's top scorer last season, netting 31 goals in all competitions.

Arsenal's victory means the Gunners have have won their first match in successive Premier League seasons for the first time since doing so in each campaign from 2007-08 to 2009-10.

Arsenal fans can be "pretty relaxed" about the future of captain and star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says manager Mikel Arteta.

Gunners boss Arteta has made no secret of his confidence that Aubameyang, whose deal expires in June, will extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.

Speculation has grown that the Gabon forward has agreed a new three-year deal at Arsenal, where he has scored 71 goals in 110 appearances since joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

With an official announcement still yet to be made, Arteta was asked if fans should be wary of celebrating too soon at a news conference previewing their Premier League season opener against Fulham.

"I can say that I am even more confident than I was at the end of last season when you asked me the same question 10 times!" Arteta said with a smile. 

"I am really optimistic, yes. I think they [the fans] can be pretty relaxed."

While the future of Aubameyang appears to be with Arsenal, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been linked with a big-money switch to Aston Villa.

The Argentine impressed when deputising for the injured Bernd Leno towards the back end of last season, helping Arteta win the FA Cup in his first season as boss.

But with Leno now back fit and no guarantees over his playing time, Martinez has been tipped to seek pastures new.

"I cannot stop speculation that we have about all our players coming in and out," Arteta added. "I don't want to comment on individuals without having the right answer to give.

"We have some really good players in many different positions, some of them are duplicated. Some clubs come to us and their interest is to get our players. 

"It's very difficult to promise players game time or be the first choice, it's part of this period in the market, we try to manage the situation the best we can."

Mesut Ozil's situation at the club remains unclear having fallen out of favour under Arteta last term.

But during pre-season, Ozil has been sending messages suggesting he will remain at Arsenal and Arteta remained non-committal as to how he features in his plans going forward.

"Well there's not been any updates. All the players that we have available here have a contract with Arsenal football club," he said. 

"They are all treated the same way, all putting in maximum effort in every training session and this is what I expect from all of them."

It was confirmed this week that Arteta's job had changed from head coach to first team manager.

Asked for his thoughts on the switch in title, he replied: "I'm excited with this change, but I'm just here to try to do my job as good as possible.

"Obviously it's always nice to be recognised by the club, but I just want to help the club to do the right things, when I have to be involved great. 

"I just want to help this club be the most successful in this country as soon as possible in a sustainable way. That's my ambition we have to do it together."

While some get a slightly longer break, the Premier League returns this week for the majority.

Champions Liverpool get going against Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United, back in the big time for the first time since 2004, while plenty of eyes will be on Frank Lampard's lavish new Chelsea side.

With the Manchester clubs, Aston Villa and Burnley not involved, this is an opening matchweek where you can afford to be a little more selective as you look for names to get you up and running.

If you need a little advice, then look no further - this Opta-powered selection is sure to get you off to a flying start.

HUGO LLORIS

While there might be one or two too many of those 'rare errors' in Hugo Lloris' form over the past two years, he is undeniably still a hugely capable goalkeeper.

Don't believe me? Well, based on Expected Goals figures, he prevented 9.5 goals for Spurs last season, the most of any keeper in the Premier League. He also had the highest save percentage (79) in the competition. And he only played in 21 games.

Given Spurs are unbeaten in 15 league matches against Everton, Jose Mourinho has managed 10 opening-day Premier League games without losing, and the Toffees have won once in 19 top-flight visits to London, Lloris looks a pretty safe bet between the posts.

 

MATT DOHERTY

A goalscoring defender in a Jose Mourinho team? You'd be mad not to consider him.

Matt Doherty has scored 15 goals in all competitions since 2018-19, more than any other Premier League defender in that time. Looking at goals and assists (eight each) in just the league in the same time frame, only Andrew Robertson (25) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (30) have more goal involvements than Doherty's 16.

Given Spurs' recent good form against Everton (see above), Doherty represents a solid selection.

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Yes, he's expensive, but really, there are few reasons to leave him out.

With five goals and 25 assists since 2018-19, Trent Alexander-Arnold leads the way in Europe's top-five leagues for goal involvements from a defender. He's hit double figures for assists (12 and 13) in each of the past two seasons, too.

Liverpool have not lost on the opening day of the top flight as reigning champions since 1924, and while Leeds United could make things tricky, Alexander-Arnold is almost certain to be involved in the Reds' best moments.

SON HEUNG-MIN

There's a real Spurs flavour to this week's picks - as we've established, Everton have a pretty lousy recent record against them - and Son Heung-min is another worth considering.

So often Spurs' go-to attacking star when Harry Kane is sidelined, last season saw Son register 21 goal involvements (11 scored, 10 assisted) in 30 games, his best record in England's top flight.

That works out at 118.3 minutes per goal or assist, which is enough to make the Everton defence feel more than a little nervous.

 

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

Look no further for your first-week captain.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 16 goals in 13 Premier League games against newly promoted opponents. In two matches against Fulham in 2018-19, he scored three and set up another across 5-1 and 4-1 victories for his side.

The Gunners have lost once in 13 league meetings with Fulham and are unbeaten in 24 matches in all competitions in September, so it seems like now is the time to give Aubameyang the armband - assuming he stays at the club, of course.

TIMO WERNER

Brighton, beware: only four players scored more goals than Timo Werner (28) in all of Europe's top-five leagues last season.

A very expensive new starting line-up is likely to be fielded by Lampard against Brighton and Hove Albion and you can bet Werner will be front and centre (or maybe front and left - we're not second-guessing your formation, Frank).

Chelsea's defence might not be trustworthy, but backing Werner to hit the ground running is a safer bet.

 

DANNY INGS

Danny Ings got 22 goals in the Premier League last season, the most by a Southampton player since James Beattie in 2002-03. And Beattie was a real fantasy favourite.

Southampton start away at Crystal Palace, where they have won in each of their past three visits without conceding a goal, and their nine away wins last season (a tally bettered only by Liverpool and Manchester City) suggest a fourth in a row at Selhurst Park is forthcoming.

With Ings having been directly involved in 14 goals (12 scored, two assisted) in 14 top-flight away games, there is every chance he could be matchweek one's top performer.

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