At the risk of sounding like a broken record, something is missing at Arsenal. In amongst the growing potential surrounding the squad, the playing style and the clear ‘process’ taking shape, something – or someone – isn’t quite clicking. And that’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. Previously the superhero-mask-wearing, goal scoring star of the show, the Gabonese forward is starting to look like an old part on a modern-day car.
Against Manchester United, the suggestion that Arsenal could do with an upgrade in the frontline couldn’t have been proven more by Aubameyang’s lack of influence. He has now gone five Premier League games without a goal, and continues to look less and less like an irreplaceable part of Arteta’s plan.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: From Arsenal’s Greatest Strength to a Glaring Weakness
Arsenal Must Find Missing Piece
When you look around Arsenal’s strongest starting line-up, it looks more impressive than it has done since the days of Alexis Sanchez and co.
The backline is settled, and consistent all the way from Aaron Ramsdale’s emergence to displace Bernd Leno, to Ben White and Gabriel’s partnership. Meanwhile, the midfield is also taking shape – with or without the injury prone Thomas Partey. Alongside that midfield, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe run the show. The fact is, when looking around the current Arsenal side, there is just one thing missing: A goalscorer.
Aubameyang was once that man. But, as a game at Old Trafford involving five goals passed him by, it became clear that he has never been further from fulfilling the role of goal getter under Arteta. It’s a problem that the Gunners must cope with for now, before solving in January. They are on the cusp of impressing with results rather than just performance; they just need that missing piece.
How Does Arteta Solve the Problem Before January?
For now, the Aubameyang problem only seems to rear its head in so-called big games, which is fortunate for Arteta. Arsenal face none of the ‘big six’ in December. In fact, their biggest game this month comes against an Everton side with just one win in their last nine games. For the first time in what feels like forever, Arsenal have the opportunity to truly have a merry Christmas in the Premier League, with the Aubameyang problem likely failing to show itself on a consistent basis.
If the issue does begin to become obvious in the ‘smaller games’, however, then Arteta must make a decision; he must be brave, as all good football managers are. The Spaniard is lucky enough to have a certain Gabriel Martinelli in his squad: A player born for the football Arsenal are attempting to play; a player that will press, that will excite, and, eventually, will get results. He just needs the same level of trust that the struggling Aubameyang receives.
Currently just one point behind fourth-placed West Ham, if Arsenal can solve their striking issues, they may just end up finding the missing piece to their Champions League qualifying puzzle before the season is up.
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