Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is without question the jewel in the Arsenal crown and remains a predatory striker of the highest quality, but some are now questioning his desire after signing a new bumper contract. Aubameyang was seen smiling and in conversation with Ilkay Gundogan after the final whistle of the defeat to Manchester City, which led to fans and pundits like Darren Bent hanging the striker out to dry.
Former Tottenham striker Darren Bent has suggested that Aubameyang might not have his mind fully on the job due to the protracted negotiations and huge salary increase, but it’s yet more evidence of the media’s regular insistence that something is amiss at Arsenal.
Darren Bent implied that Aubameyang had taken his foot off the gas and added:
“No coincidence that since that new contract the output has been a lot less.”
“He’s probably thinking he’s doing the same things but you can tell that the level of performance and even the work rate is slightly downhill”
Hold on! Darren Bent was never a world-class striker or international star and it’s slightly bewildering that the former player has passed judgement on Aubameyang, the type of talent he could only ever dream of becoming. I doubt you’d find the same comments coming from Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, or Gary Lineker, who are generally more qualified to offer an opinion.
The roles of goalkeepers and strikers are the most unforgiving in football. If a GK fumbles a ball and if it leads to a goal and possibly a defeat, he’s vilified. Similarly, if a striker suffers a quiet spell in front of goal, he’s suddenly not focused or he is past his best and should be sold on.
The fact is that the continuous lack of service to either the Gabon striker or his French counterpart could cost Arsenal 15 to 20 goals this season. Aubameyang and Lacazette have had to scavenge for scraps season after season and it’s worse for the Frenchman, who is reported to be on the verge of a transfer because he failed to show a decent return on the club’s investment.
That’s not the case, the striker offers more than goals and although he has been wasteful in a few early games, he makes a solid contribution to the team. It’s been Arsenal’s overall problem that they can’t get the best out of their top assets and last season, without Aubameyang’s contribution, Arsenal would have been in deep trouble heading in the wrong direction on the Premier League table.
As much as I rate Arteta as a coach, I wish he’d let the defenders go direct, instead of walking the ball out of their area. A good punt upfield relieves pressure but also causes panic, I don’t advocate that this becomes the way Arsenal play week in week out but as a variation, why not? At least the strikers get something to run on to and even the top two sides aren’t adverse to trying the direct route on occasion.
Aubameyang isn’t happy unless he’s scoring and he’ll be keen to show Darren Bent how wrong he is. Someone somewhere is going to be on the receiving end of this personal slur but the Gabon striker could do with some help to get there.