After all the contract uncertainty that surrounded Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future last season, Arsenal’s talisman eventually ‘signed the ting’.
The Gabon international had come off his most influential campaign in a Gunners shirt since arriving from Borussia Dortmund a couple of years ago, scoring braces in both the FA Cup semi-final and final, and lifting the trophy as captain. Not to mention that he would also notch in the north London side’s Community Shield triumph too.
So when he put pen to paper on a new three-year deal at the club, things were beginning to look up for Arsenal. But fast forward a couple of months, and Aubameyang is in the midst of his most ineffective spell for the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta’s continued use of him out on the left wing hasn’t worked out as it did last season, whilst on the rare occasion he has been deployed through the middle, like against Leeds United on Sunday, he failed miserably too.
All in all, he has managed just four goals in 11 games, and only two in nine in the Premier League. In fact, with him netting from the spot in the win over Manchester United, Aubameyang hasn’t scored from open play in the top-flight since he bagged against Fulham on the opening day.
Whilst Arteta’s structured tactics and focus on shape and patterns may have curbed the Gabonese star’s natural attacking instincts, Aubameyang himself must shoulder some of the responsibility for his poor form.
He has been guilty of either disappearing in games, or missing chances that he normally would have gobbled up. And even though it’s such a simple thing to throw at a player, he just hasn’t been himself since signing his new contract. Former Premier League striker Darren Bent admitted that the Gunners talisman has seen a “massive drop-off” in his performances.
Arsenal of course have already experienced something similar with Mesut Ozil. The gifted play-maker was outstanding in the months building up to signing his bumper new deal in 2018, and has since fallen so far out of the reckoning, that he didn’t even make the Premier League squad for the Gunners.
Whether it’s potentially giving Aubameyang a complete rest to allow him to recharge his batteries, or maybe dropping him to the bench and seeing if he can take advantage of a tiring defence and getting his confidence back with a goal in that way, Arsenal must make a decisive call on the £45m-rated star.