Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played on the right-wing against Leicester City on Sunday, the latest way to avoid him starting in his actual position.
For most of Mikel Arteta’s spell as Arsenal boss so far, we’ve seen Aubameyang on the left. Many of us didn’t like it, but there’s no denying it got the team some results towards the end of last season.
The issue is that it’s not working anymore. Aubameyang just isn’t getting chances, despite starting and playing the full 90 minutes in every single league game.
Expected Goals in the Premier League this season:
Dallas – 0.93
Robertson – 0.89
Gabriel – 0.75
Dunk – 0.64
Kouyaté – 0.60
Mina – 0.59
Bartley – 0.58
Van Dijk – 0.56
Aubameyang – 0.52 pic.twitter.com/7N3efx6Hco
— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) October 25, 2020
Arteta played the striker on the right on Sunday, and it didn’t change anything. He still didn’t have any good chances, whilst the best opportunities fell to the wasteful Alexandre Lacazette instead.
That’s the other big issue. Neither Lacazette nor Eddie Nketiah are even playing well in the middle. It’s not just that their goals have dried up in the last few games, which they have, but they also aren’t performing in any other meaningful sense.
Between the two, they’ve played 429 minutes up front since last scoring or assisting a goal. There’s not even one goal they’ve been involved in during that period.
Neither had a touch in the build-up to the two against Rapid Vienna. Neither were on the pitch for the two against Sheffield United.
Arteta said before the match: “The moment he (Aubameyang) does not score, (people say) he needs to play as a 9. If you play him as a 9, why don’t you keep him on the left because he has been so successful on the left?”
Maybe I’d accept that point if it was just Aubameyang having problems. But when the alternatives to Aubameyang up front aren’t performing, the excuse no longer holds weight. The issue isn’t Aubameyang not scoring, it’s Arsenal not scoring.
Clearly, Arteta sees Saka as an option on the left, as he played him there on Sunday. Nicolas Pepe and Willian will be available on the right for the upcoming games. There’s no necessity to start Aubameyang on either side.
Meanwhile, the team desperately need something different up front. So play the centre-forward in the centre-forward position, and drop the two strikers who are the most out of form. It only makes sense.