Newcastle United v Arsenal: Wenger hopes for sharper shooting
Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal can rediscover their shooting boots when they travel to face Newcastle United on Saturday.
The Gunners have made an inconsistent start to the season, with a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace sandwiched by their opening-day 2-0 defeat to West Ham and Monday's entertaining goalless draw against Liverpool.
Two failures to score already this term weave into a run of five blanks in nine Premier League games, and a meeting with a Newcastle defence that held Manchester United to a goalless draw last weekend could be a concern.
Wenger commented before the weekend's trip to Tyneside: "Maybe we are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. By definition, the finishing is a little bit cyclical and it goes in cycles.
"Finishing qualities come and go and you do not always know why, but certainly at the moment we want it so much at home that we're trying to force it a little bit.
"It doesn't look natural enough in our finishing qualities because we want to force the situation a little too much."
Striker Olivier Giroud has been pinpointed by many pundits as a player unable to provide the firepower that Arsenal need to challenge for the title, although the Frenchman will be relishing Saturday's game as an attempt to prove his detractors wrong.
The France forward has a magnificent record against Newcastle, scoring eight times in just six meetings, including the two goals which secured a 2-1 win in this fixture last term.
With his attack struggling to spark, Wenger has concerns at both ends of the field as Per Mertesacker (illness) and Laurent Koscielny (back) face a race to be fit for the game – Gabriel and Calum Chambers will be on standby after combining to keep out Liverpool.
Newcastle's attack will also be in the spotlight with new recruits Aleksandar Mitrovic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Florian Thauvin set to take the fight to Arsenal.
Thauvin could make his full Premier League debut after impressing on his first Newcastle start in the League Cup, putting Northampton Town to the sword with a goal and three assists in Tuesday's 4-1 win.
Siem de Jong captained the side and scored from a Thauvin delivery against the League Two side, as well as completing 90 minutes for the first time since joining from Ajax last season.
Having finally gained full fitness after a 2014-15 season spent mostly on the treatment table, De Jong hopes to work his way into Steve McClaren's crowded attacking plans.
"I feel like a new signing a little bit," De Jong said.
"It is a new start for everybody, so everybody will be positive if we get the football in and get some results.
"In the last game against Manchester United it was a boost for the team, even though we didn't win. It was a good result."