Mikel Arteta has his “eye on a few more players”, says Lee Dixon, with the former Arsenal defender hoping that a deal can be done for a performer of Houssem Aouar’s ilk as added creativity is going to be “key” for the Gunners.
Arsenal are refusing to give up on a top target, with Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey another of those in their sights, and Dixon believes deals will be done before the October 5 deadline.
The Gunners great told talkSPORT of Arteta’s efforts to reinforce his ranks: “I think he’s got his eye on a few more players. If he can get them over the line in the next week or so…
“I think a creative midfield player is key. When [Dani] Ceballos came on [against Liverpool] you could see the difference in that creative side of things.
“It’s so difficult to be under that sort of pressure for that amount of time against a brilliant pressing team, then to go and play your football because you’re absolutely exhausted. We’ve all played against a team that suffocates you.
“So they need a little bit of creativity in midfield in order to get them out of those situations when they’ve been under pressure.”
Arsenal slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Anfield in their most recent Premier League outing, but Dixon believes there have been plenty of encouraging signs for the north London outfit under Arteta’s guidance.
He added: “I think from Arsenal’s point of view, it’s a good reality check because it shows them how far they’ve got to go and how far they have come. That would have been a thumping under Unai Emery.
“I was sitting on the fence when Arteta got the job because it was his first job. Was it a bit too early in his learning curve? But what he’s doing at the club, what he’s doing to the players, what he’s doing on the training pitch and how they’re responding – he’s turned some of them around and he’s got them playing in a way they all understand.
“Yes, there’s lots of improvements to be made but they were playing against one of the best teams in the world.”
Arteta has delivered major silverware during his short time as Gunners boss, with FA Cup and Community Shield glory taken in, but returning to the top four and Champions League competition remains the ultimate goal.
Quizzed on “realistic” ambitions for Arsenal in 2020-21, Dixon said: “There’s always the ambition to win a trophy, we did that last year and I think that’s always on the side burner.
“If you can have a good cup run, that’s great and it builds confidence and it’s something tangible for people to look at and say: ‘Yes, we’ve won that’.
“We have to take into consideration the lack of pre-season and the unusual situation we find ourselves in, but I do feel Arteta will be looking at top four, absolute minimum. He’s a very ambitious young manager. ‘
“You’ve got to get in the top four now. They’ve fallen so far from grace that that didn’t used to be enough and now, all of a sudden, it’s the Holy Grail. So that’s the next step.”