With no goals in the last two Premier League games for Arsenal, Mikel Arteta is facing questions about playing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the middle.
There’s no doubt Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is Arsenal’s top goalscorer, whether he’s on the left or in the middle. But by his standards, three goals in eight games isn’t a great start to the season.
Despite Eddie Nketiah’s goal against Dundalk, neither he nor Alexandre Lacazette are making waves in the middle right now. When we see brief cameos of Aubameyang centrally, he always seems more threatening.
Earlier in the week, Arteta described the option to play Aubameyang centrally as a ‘very strong possibility’, whilst insisting it depends on the players around him.
“Yes, that’s a very possible thing,” the Arsenal manager said. “It will depend on the games, it will depend on who he’s surrounded with. I think it’s very important to see who is around him and why we’re doing it.
“Not just the fact we’re doing it, why we’re doing that, and what we’re going to get by doing these positive things. Of course, there’s a very strong possibility to play him as a [number] 9.”
Arteta then went on to speak further on the issue to Arsenal.com. Again, he suggested it was possible they might start using the player in the middle, but he’s not going to be influenced by those calls from the outside.
“It’s one of the options that we have for sure in the team, to evolve it. The moment he doesn’t score in three or four games, people will say, ‘He needs to play more central’.
“It was great for him to play on the left because he wasn’t picked up by central defenders. There was more freedom for him to do that. [Criticism] is a part of this industry.”
It’s up to Arteta to make the call for the weekend’s match at Old Trafford. But I can’t see the Arsenal fans ignoring the decision to play Aubameyang on the left if the team draw a third consecutive Premier League blank on Sunday.