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Paul Scholes names Arsenal’s three key players and the problem Mikel Arteta must sort out first


Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette have been backed to shine by Paul Scholes (Picture: Getty Images)

Paul Scholes believes Mikel Arteta’s first job as Arsenal manager is to improve the defence, but his success also depends on the fitness of his front three – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.

Arteta took charge of his first game as Gunners boss on Thursday as his side came from behind to draw 1-1 with Bournemouth.

While not the perfect start for the Spaniard, Arteta praised his team’s ‘attitude, desire, aggression and commitment’ in the contest, despite failing to pick up three points.

Aubameyang scored the equaliser having started in a forward line alongside Lacazette, Ozil and Reiss Nelson.

Although Ozil has been a controversial figure at Arsenal and there is much speculation about his future, Manchester United legend Scholes feels he, along with Aubameyang and Lacazette can turn the club’s fortunes around.

‘I think the key to Arsenal is the front three players,’ Scholes told Premier League Productions. ‘I think if he [Arteta] keeps Aubameyang, Lacazette and Ozil fit, I think they’re three quality players.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 14th goal of the season on Thursday (Picture: Getty Images)

Arteta was impressed with Ozil after the point on the south coast, telling BBC Sport: ‘I think he [Ozil] played really well.

‘He worked and could have been the difference, we could have scored three or four goals from his balls through.’

Ozil also sent a positive message to his new boss, tweeting: ‘Unlucky to not get the victory. But many positive things to take away from the game. Trust the process.’

Scholes is impressed with the quality of Arsenal’s forwards, but the same cannot be said about their defenders, who he says Arteta must improve or replace.

‘It’s just has he got the quality in behind them?’ Scholes continued. ‘Defensively has always been Arsenal’s problem and I think that’s the first thing he needs to do, try and sure up that defence.’

Arsenal have kept just three clean sheets in the Premier League this season, conceding 28 goals in 19 games.

Arteta chose a back four of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz and Bukayo Saka against Bournemouth, with Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney all out injured.

The Gunners are back in action in the Premier League at home to Chelsea on Sunday and Bellerin, Chambers and Holding are all pushing for returns so Arteta’s plans may become clearer in that match.

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