Arsenal's scoring woes highlighted by failure in UCL vs. Barcelona
Per Mertesacker could not have been any clearer after Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League. When the team can't convert their scoring chances, "we do not deserve anything," the German said. If the Gunners can't fix their profligacy in front of goal quickly, they may find themselves coming away with nothing for the entire season.
The Barcelona game was just the latest example of the Arsenal attack misfiring, a trend that has become increasingly worrying in 2016. While it may be unfair to compare any group of forwards to Barcelona's front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, such a comparison is downright painful in Arsenal's case.
Since the start of 2016, the Barca trio have combined for 38 goals, including Messi's brace at the Emirates. In that same span, Arsenal's three leading forwards -- Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott -- have a combined five goals.
Tuesday's loss to Barcelona was the fifth time in eight games that Arsenal were held scoreless. Four of those were at home at the Emirates, including 0-0 stalemates against Southampton in the Premier League and Hull in the FA Cup. In those two games, Arsenal took a total of 41 shots without finding the net. In the Premier League, they went 338 minutes without a goal before beating Bournemouth 2-0.
While they need a miracle to stay in the Champions League, Arsenal still have hopes of completing a domestic double. But that won't happen if they keep up their recent form in front of goal. Here's a closer look at Arsenal's scoring problems -- and why the fit-again Danny Welbeck may be back in the team's starting lineup sooner than you'd think.
Olivier Giroud: 11 games, three goals in 2016
Much was said about Giroud silencing his critics this season after he netted an impressive brace at Liverpool in the 3-3 Premier League draw at Anfield on Jan. 13. Giroud has not scored since, though, and his critics are back in full voice after the Frenchman came up short in several recent games. While Giroud had crucial assists in the recent Premier League wins over Bournemouth and Leicester, Arsenal need him to be much more of a scoring threat in the area.
Alexis Sanchez: Seven games, one goal in 2016
Sanchez hasn't looked his best since returning from a hamstring injury that ruled him out for nearly two months. He had a goal and an assist in his first start back, a 2-1 FA Cup win over Burnley, but has struggled to find his best form since. And the injury layoff may not be the only reason. Even before he was hurt in November, Sanchez had only scored two goals in his previous 10 games for club and country -- both of them in a Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb.
Sanchez is by far Arsenal's most dangerous forward but he must rediscover his scoring touch if the team is to win the Premier League.
Theo Walcott: 11 games, one goal in 2016
This is quickly turning into another disappointing season for Walcott, who began the campaign as Arsene Wenger's first choice at centre-forward but is now having to settle for regular appearances off the bench.
Wenger has acknowledged that Walcott had a dip in form recently, but he did come on to net the vital equaliser against Leicester with a composed finish. Still, he is once again leaving fans wondering whether he'll ever turn into a regular goal scorer for the Gunners.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.