Arsenal supporters envisioned a new beginning, yet it feels like a false dawn at the moment.
Although it’s harsh to judge Mikel Arteta on his short time at the Emirates, the former Gunner and Man City coach knows better than anyone that he is in a results-centric business.
Indeed, the up-and-down nature of Arteta’s track record has left many fans frustrated, with much of the Woolwich faithful seeking alternative entertainment in other forms, such as Japanese casinos (バカラ ルール) online. With a range of slots and table games to play – including the increasingly popular card game baccarat – it’s not difficult to see why these kinds of diversions are proving more enjoyable than Arsenal’s on-pitch performances of late.
Unfortunately, the displays have been hurting more than the fans. In an unlikely twist, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal’s iconic talisman, has found himself in a goal drought that makes the situation worse. Arteta’s men have issues at the back, yet it’s at the top end of the pitch where the pressure has piled on his team.
If he can release it, the Spaniard can buy himself more time. But how can he get the best out of Aubameyang?
Change the formation
Pundits and fans might blame the lack of quality on the pitch, but it’s hard to agree when you have a striker like Aubameyang in your side. Throw in the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Partey, and the Gunners have a squad that is capable of challenging for the top six, not languishing at the bottom of the table.
With that in mind, it seems apparent that Arteta needs to switch the formation to give his main forward more impetus. Going to a 4-2-3-1 allows the Gabon international to play in his favourite position – through the middle – while the likes of Saka, Willian, and Pepe combine behind him to offer a mix of pace, athleticism, and out and out quality.
It seems strange for Arteta to choose between the two when his side is struggling to score goals. However, it appears that Lacazette is taking up the spaces that Aubameyang likes to patrol, and this was confirmed by none other than Jose Mourinho back in 2019. Speaking as a pundit, the Portuguese believes playing Aubameyang on the left side of a three could work.
However, it would require Arteta to drop Lacazette entirely, which is a brave move for a guy who is fighting for his life. If he did it and replaced the man in the number 10 role with a striker who has similar attributes to Firmino at Liverpool, it could create spaces for Aubameyang to attack from out wide. It’s a tried and tested method, not only for last year’s champions but for Arsenal, too, since Dennis Bergkamp used to do the same thing for Thierry Henry.
Inject more pace into his game
Sometimes, a striker needs a rocket up the backside to engage both him and the fans. There are several previous examples of managers using bets to fire players up and get the best out of them, noticeably Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.
Challenging a quality player like Aubameyang to score more goals and step up to the plate could inject more pace into his game and force him to take on extra responsibility. Yes, it’s possible that it could backfire horribly and cost Arteta his job, yet one thing’s for certain – he won’t hold onto it for long if his captain doesn’t break his dry spell.