Arteta urges Aubameyang to relax and let the goals come
Mikel Arteta has no doubt Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s fallow period in front of goal for Arsenal will soon come to an end.
Aubameyang delighted the Gunners’ faithful by penning a new three-year contract in September, ending mounting speculation over his future.
However, the Gabon international has not scored a Premier League goal from open play since the 3-0 opening-weekend win at Fulham.
His four in 10 across all competitions represent a goal every 209 minutes, a fall from one per 128.4 minutes as he rattled home 29 in 44 appearances last season.
Arsenal return to action at Leeds United on Sunday, with their captain having endured a far from ideal international break with Gabon. Travel problems ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Gambia led to Aubameyang and his team-mates apparently sleeping on an airport floor.
Arteta took a relaxed view of that farcical situation and was similarly sanguine when it came to discussing the 31-year-old’s goal tally.
“The fact he signed a new contract [had no impact], he already had a contract. He signed an extended contract,” he said.
— Aubameyang P-E (@Aubameyang7) November 16, 2020
“We need to help him more. He knows what he can do, the things he needs to improve in his game to be more decisive. It will come.
“I haven’t known any striker in the world that doesn’t have a period where he’s not scoring as much.
“It’s how you navigate that period and how you come back to what you’ve always done. It’s something normal. Just take it in a natural way and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
“As coaches we try to find ways to help him as much as we can.”
Along with his goals drying up, Aubameyang’s shots per 90 minutes (1.5 from 2.6) and touches in the opposition box each match (3.6 from 4.6) are also down when compared to Opta data for last season.
The former Borussia Dortmund star’s chances created per game are up from 0.73 to 1.2, further suggesting Arteta’s decision to station him predominantly on the left of the Arsenal attack and not at centre-forward is having an impact upon Aubameyang’s output.
“I’m open to many options, as I’m open to using different formations or change the team with different names,” the manager explained.
“We have to accommodate our players. As you mentioned, data is very important.
“As well, the players have to build relationships. It’s very important how you adjust the attacking and defensive sides in a team to get that cohesion as a team.
“There are moments when you need him in one position, moments in another position. It’s always a possibility.”