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Arsenal should have signed a striker on deadline day in the January transfer window to as cover for leading scoring Olivier Giroud, according to ex-midfielder Paul Merson. The goalless draw with Southampton saw the Gunners' run without a goal in the top flight extend to 300 minutes, a sequence that has seen Arsene Wenger's team drop off the pace in the Premier League title race.
Wins for Leicester City, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur saw Wenger's side fall to fourth in the table, five points off the top with 14 games remaining. Though Alexis Sanchez has returned from a hamstring injury, the run of three league games without a goal has highlighted the lack of options in attack.
Giroud has scored 18 goals in all competitions this term but Arsenal are without a realistic backup, with Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell deployed in wide roles this term. Mohamed Elneny was the only arrival in the January window and Merson believes the club missed an opportunity to enhance their frontline.
"I was very disappointed Arsenal didn't do more business on deadline day," Merson told Sky Sports. "They needed a centre-forward, they need to score goals. All the clubs down the bottom signed strikers to help them avoid relegation, and it's the same if you're going for titles, you need to score goals. If Olivier Giroud gets injured, Arsenal are in major trouble in terms of winning the league."
After taking just three points from their last four league matches, Arsenal are desperately in need of a return to winning ways upon the visit of AFC Bournemouth this weekend. Manchester City and Leicester face off at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday(6 February) meaning the club have a chance to make up ground on at least one of their title rivals.
"For me, Sunday's game at Bournemouth is a cup final – they have to win, it's as simple as that," Merson added. "It's a good game for Arsenal because they're not going to be kicked off the park, Bournemouth are a nice footballing team.
"Arsenal will play the same way as they have done ever since Arsene Wenger got there 20 years ago and they'll get the ball down, pass and keep faith in the way they play. But, for me, this is a must-win game, a draw is just no good for Arsenal now.
"They've gone from title favourites to playing catch-up in no time. If they lose at Bournemouth, and Manchester United win at Chelsea, all of a sudden there are two points between those two, and things will start to get worrying."