February 05, 2016

Mired in their worst Premier League goal drought in seven years, Arsenal are searching for answers to revive their offence and earn their first top-flight win in more than a month.

The Gunners can get back on track by sweeping the season series from surging Bournemouth on Sunday in their first visit to Vitality Stadium.

It was understandable how goals would be hard to come by as Arsenal (13-6-5) combined for four shots on target in a scoreless draw at Stoke City on Jan. 17 and a 1-0 loss to Chelsea one week later. But after putting 10 of their 21 attempts on target in Tuesday's scoreless home draw with Southampton, the Gunners were left deflated and frustrated by Saints keeper Fraser Forster.

It also prompted the "same old Arsenal" murmurs as they slipped to fourth in the table behind Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference and five points behind front-running Leicester City, whom they host next Sunday.

Arsenal's most recent league goal came from Olivier Giroud in the 55th minute of a 3-all finish at Liverpool on Jan. 13. The Gunners' last Premier League win came 1-0 over Newcastle United on Jan. 2 - their fifth in six games at the time.

"It is always very difficult to identify one isolated factor," manager Arsene Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "We have to believe that if we produce games of quality, that won't happen in every single game."

That optimism is needed as the Gunners try to end that 0-3-1 stretch and avoid matching their longest single-season Premier League run without a win since drawing five in a row from Jan. 28-Feb. 28, 2009. That was also the last time they went four consecutive matches without producing a goal.

"We have to be faithful to our offensive game," said Wenger. "We are a team who love to score goals and that's why I think we have to continue to work on going forward, to be more efficient."

Giroud has recorded a team-leading 18 goals over all competitions but his brace at Anfield are his only contributions in the last seven Premier League matches. He recorded seven shots, including three on target, against the Saints.

Teammate Mesut Ozil hasn't registered any of his league-leading 16 assists in the new year, but the German international created a season and league-high 10 chances Tuesday.

"It is of course vital that players who provide you with the chances continue to do it," Wenger said. "I believe that he has done that in a convincing fashion, in a quiet fashion again, because he's not the kind of guy who shouts.

"I think we will need a completely focused Ozil until the end (if we are) to do extremely well this season."

Ozil's most recent contributions were a goal and an assist in the 2-0 triumph over Bournemouth (7-7-10) on Dec. 28 at the Emirates.

Since that meeting, Bournemouth's lost once in seven matches over all competitions and allowed two goals during a 2-1-0 Premier League stretch. They should be brimming with confidence following Tuesday's 2-1 road victory at Crystal Palace.

The Cherries are 15th on 28 points as they try to stay in the top flight for a second consecutive season and seven points clear of the drop.

"Every weekend is pivotal," Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. "Sunday represents a really good game for our football club, we're competitive and try to win.

"I'd say we're more confident now than the last time we played against Arsenal. The run we've had and the importance of the fixtures we've been able to win has given us a renewed belief to compete against the very best sides."

After conceding the first goal of the match at Palace, Marc Pugh scored in the 34th minute and Benik Afobe put the Cherries ahead in the 57th. Since coming over last month from Wolverhampton of the Championship, Afobe has a goal in three straight of the four Premier League fixtures he's played.

"His biggest strength is that his movement in the box is good," Wenger said. "His finishing is good, he has good pace and the timings of his runs are good. We need of course full concentration at the back to stop him from being efficient."

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)