Mikel Arteta challenges Arsenal stars Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka to add more goals to their game

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 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta has challenged Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to score more goals as they look to take their games to the next level.

The pair, both products of Arsenal’s academy, have cemented themselves as first-team regulars and key parts of Mikel Arteta’s side.

They played a pivotal role in last Sunday’s win over Tottenham, each claiming a goal and an assist, and Arteta is hungry for that to become a regular occurrence.

The goals were the pair’s first in the Premier League this season after they managed seven between them in more than 50 top-flight matches combined last year.

Arteta said: “When you are playing for top clubs, those individuals in forward positions have to decide matches week in and week out.

“And that is obviously related to scoring and assisting. It is a part of the game we are trying to develop with them and it is getting better. So hopefully they will be able to do that.”

Arteta’s hunger for more goals from his forwards is nothing new and a logical step for young players looking to step up.

Raheem Sterling went through a similar period at Manchester City, before having three seasons on the spin during which he scored more than 20 goals.

Saka and Smith Rowe still have a way to go to emulate Sterling, but they are on the right track and Arteta is pleased with their development.

Smith Rowe, in particular, is rapidly improving and England manager Gareth Southgate revealed yesterday the 21-year-old narrowly missed out on a first call-up to the senior squad.

“He [Smith Rowe] is very good right now and he can get much better,” said Arteta. “There are things he must improve and he is hungry to do that.

“We can help his confidence and his head, how he takes the next step and how he manages to handle praise and how he handles negativity and pressure as well.

“It’s exciting that people are seeing our academy with the potential to become big players for the club.

“That is already a joy that they believe that, because we believe they have the potential to do that and now that potential has to become reality and they have to fulfil it.”

Arsenal have turned their season around after a miserable start and victory over Brighton tomorrow would be their fifth in a row.

Arteta was under pressure before the last international break, but ahead of this one he appears to have the fans back onside judging by the joyous scenes following last weekend’s derby win over Tottenham. “I’ve always said that I’ve been here for 18, 20 months and for 16 or 17 of those months, we haven’t had our people with us,” said Arteta.

“It’s impossible to build anything because they [the fans] are the biggest part of our foundation.

“When they are with us and when they are embracing what we are doing, you see the difference because they are able to create momentum and create the energy and the passion that they did at the weekend and when that happens, the team responds.”

Other than Granit Xhaka, who is out for three months with a knee injury, Arsenal have a fully-fit squad for tomorrow’s match at Brighton, who have lost just one of their first six League games.

“They’ve been on a really good run,” said Arteta. “They are playing well and getting the results that they deserve.”

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