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Mikel Arteta has challenged his Arsenal players to aim for between 90 and 100 goals next season if they are to build on this campaign and challenge for the Premier League title.

Arsenal are well positioned to end their five-season wait for Champions League football as they sit fourth in the English top flight with games in hand on the chasing pack.

The gap on top-two sides Manchester City and Liverpool stands at 19 and 18 points respectively, however, albeit having played one game less than both teams.

Arteta believes a lot of that can be explained by the attacking output of each side, with Arsenal having scored 43 goals so far, compared to 68 for City and 75 for Liverpool.

Arsenal have been tipped to strengthen their squad in the next transfer window, and manager Arteta is fully aware exactly where his team needs improving if they are to push on.

“To be with the top teams this season you need to score 90 to 100 goals at least,” he said. “Somehow you need those goals in the team. 

“Don’t ask me how, but you need them. They have to come. That contribution, how it’s done, you have to find the right pieces to do it. It’s non-negotiable.”

Arsenal’s 43 Premier League goals this season – one of which was an own goal – have come from an expected goals (xG) return of 42.7.

That means the Gunners have scored about as many goals as you would expect from the quality of their shots, netting from a xG of 0.1 per shot.

No Arsenal player has made it to double figures for goals this term in the league ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa, with Emile Smith Rowe their leading scorer on nine.

By comparison, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling (both 10) are into double figures for City, as are Sadio Mane (12), Diogo Jota (13) and Mohamed Salah (20) for Liverpool.

Players of such quality do not come cheaply, but Arteta insisted a goalscorer – or goalscorers – can make all the difference when it comes to challenging for major honours.

“If you look at the history of [successful] football teams, they always have that,” he said. “You look at the Barcelona team that won six titles; they scored 100 goals for three years. 

“If you don’t need that then you need to have 30 clean sheets. In the last 11 games, if we can score 11 goals and concede zero we’re going to win 11 games. 

“Or we can score 35 and concede, and we’re still going to have 33 points. But in a very different way.”

Pressed on Arsenal’s transfer business in the upcoming window, and whether it was important to continue focusing on youth, Arteta said: “We have to find the right piece. 

“When we find that player, maybe the top priority won’t be the age in that position. Maybe in another one, yes. So we’ll have to get that right.”

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