Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admits Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang’s recent goalscoring form is a worry but is confident the striker is working hard to rediscover his touch.
Aubameyang has gone five games without a goal for the Gunners and produced a particularly underwhelming display in Thursday’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.
The forward was substituted after 79 minutes at Old Trafford as Arteta turned to Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to try to salvage something from the game.
Asked if he was concerned about Aubameyang’s lack of goals, Arteta said: “You always are when your main striker isn’t scoring goals, but he is trying his hardest.
“He is aware of how much we need him as a team to score goals and, at the moment, they are not coming, but the rest of the things we are asking him to do, he is trying his best.”
The loss at United cost Arsenal the chance to move fourth in the table. It was only their second defeat in 11 games but, with the other having come at Liverpool, Arteta recognises the team need to step up against the big teams.
He said: “The mood after the game was that we were extremely disappointed because we threw the game away and I think we should have taken more out of that game.
“It was very pleasing for periods because the performance that you are able to put in against that team was very positive, but you need to know how to win those games when you are as dominant as we were in periods.
“We had the performance but not the points and that’s what we have to evolve and learn and get better at.”
Arsenal are back in action on Monday as they travel to Everton, a club where Arteta spent six years as a player.
The Toffees go into the game at Goodison Park amid a poor run having failed to win in their last eight outings.
Arteta said: “There are a lot of teams that are going through that, because this is a league that has become that competitive that, the moment you lose a game or two, the pressure is coming for everybody.
“It is no different there. Obviously it’s a very special place to go back to because I had some amazing years there, so I’m looking forward to it.
“(They are) a team that wants to put things right and win I know what to expect under the lights, with the fans they have. It will be a tough game.”
Arteta, speaking at a press conference, added that Granit Xhaka is nearing a return from a knee injury.
He said: “This week he has progressed again to a different level, and tomorrow (Sunday) we will assess how he is, have a conversation with him and decide when is the best moment to start to give him some exposure in games.”