It’s as awkward as the Ozil situation in many respects as Arsenal consider their options regarding their highly paid, impotent goal scorer and club captain, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who has had one of his worst seasons in front of goal. The difference between last season and this is so completely contrasting that it feels as if you are looking at two different players but it’s noticeable that Aubameyang’s performances, on the whole, have been bang average at best with only the odd hint at his pedigree and class.
It’s likely just a phase, one of those periods where a striker can’t buy a goal but what if it’s not? Are Arsenal facing another contract torment for big bucks and few rewards? The club will be keen to avoid another case of ‘cash haemorrhaging’ having offloaded Mesut Ozil whose career continues to plummet as fast as Aubameyang’s goal averages.
Arsenal will probably look at this as a blip, which it probably is but don’t be deluded that another season like this and the Gabon hitman could be out through the doors with a string of players keen to replace him. Some have said that the current dip in form is due to a lack of motivation, hunger, and complacency, but that’s the usual response to a high-profile player with a lavish lifestyle who is underperforming.
It’s ridiculous what people pick up on to throw at an individual who isn’t exactly meeting their expectations such as the company they keep, their choice of extravagant clothes, and even their choice of hairstyles, none of which would be an issue I’m sure if Aubameyang was the Premiership’s leading goal scorer and Arsenal were within a whisker of the top four.
Sadly, that isn’t the case and people will find a stick to beat him with that has no connection to his game or effort but it’s true that he no longer resembles the player he was at the tail of last season. Is that because teams and their coaches are wise to his restricted movement, cut and dash style, preference to cut in on the left diagonal, and aversion to the central striking role.
If I were Arteta, I’d let him roam as Wenger did with Henry. The Frenchman would drift left or right, occasional plundering through the middle or loitering near the box as the play progressed. He scored all sorts of goals from all sorts of areas and perhaps, Aubameyang needs that freedom to excel but I can’t believe it’s a conversation that he and Arteta haven’t had.
Aubameyang should be on 25 goals already this season but he is 4 goals behind his strike partner Alexandre Lacazette who is on 13, which says it all. However, the Frenchman is a different type of striker and his movement makes it hard to block him out of a game and even though he’s not a prolific hitman, he does a lot of work in the buildup, think Shearer (goal scorer) and Sheringham (goal architect). It’s that type of thing but not to that standard from either party.
Arsenal may have no choice but to offload Aubameyang and Lacazette which would be a pity but it’s a ruthless business where sentiment is second to profit and success.