Sports Aubameyang: Are Arteta’s tactics responsible for talisman’s drought?
Arsenal boss Arteta hopeful for Tierney boost ahead of Manchester City clash
The Gunners defender is currently having to self-isolate in Scotland due to a coronavirus scare, but discussions are ongoing to bring him to LondonIt was announced at the start of the international break that Tierney, along with Ryan Christie, would have to endure two weeks of quarantine north of the border after being deemed to have been in "close contact" with Stuart Armstrong, who had tested positive, by the Lothian Health Protection Team
While the big talking point after Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday was Pep Guardiola getting a win over former assistant manager Mikel Arteta, a lesser topic that invited discussion was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang firing another blank.
It’s now four games since the Gabon superstar last found the back of the net for the north Londoners — 393 minutes precisely sinceagainst newly-promoted Fulham. Auba, scorer of 22 Premier League goals in each of the last two seasons, is now in danger of not hitting those numbers again given the recent evidence.
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The German tactician faces the most daunting Everton game since he took charge, and his top attackers need big performances to secure a winAsk past and present footballers and their reaction to such humiliations are usually the same: to put such a heavy hammering behind them by either playing shortly after or facing off with a really good opposition in the next game.
In truth, there’s a caveat: it’s still too early to ascertain whether the forward’s dry spell at the start of 2020/21 will lead to a significant reduction in goals, while it ought to be noted that two of those games have been against Liverpool and Manchester City, many pundits’ picks to challenge for the title.
However, the rebuttal to the second assertion would be to indicate how Aubameyang’s recent run of scoring vs the big teams at the backend of last season in league and cup, as well as in the Community Shield, looked to be a precursor to a newly-found edge in the so-called big games.
This hasn’t been the case, with the former Borussia Dortmund striker attempting no shots against the Reds at Anfield and City on Saturday, a pretty damning fact. He had 27 and 25 touches respectively in both encounters, completing eight passes on Merseyside and 10 in Manchester at the weekend.
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The Gunners were beaten 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, falling to their second defeat of the Premier League seasonThe pair were joined at the hip for three years while Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City and each knows exactly how the other’s mind works.
Indeed, this has dampened the optimism that’d grown in the last three months over the prolific frontman’s big-game goals. Having been criticised for being peripheral in encounters vs Arsenal’s rivals, the 2019 Golden Boot winner seemed to have been empowered recently to punish City, Chelsea and Liverpool in the space of a couple of months.
Be that as it may, statistics from Arsenal’s other games suggest there may be a bigger problem, with Aubameyang not even getting many shots away, thus calling Arteta’s approach into question. Against West Ham United, he attempted one effort, while there were two attempts (both off target) in the Gunners’ last home game vs Sheffield United.
After three strikes at goal from the club’s skipper in their opening day victory, there’s been a decrease in the volume of shots in recent matches.
Arteta: "I failed at Özil"
Why is Mesut Özil no longer allowed to play for Arsenal? On Wednesday evening, coach Mikel Arteta explained his point of view. © imago images From the archive: Mikel Arteta gives Mesut Özil instructions on the square - spectators in the background. Mikel Arteta has not been planning with Mesut Özil for months, now he has finally decided against the world champion: Özil is only allowed to play in the U23 until his contract ends in summer.
Admittedly, it’s a small sample size, but should this be worrying and are misgivings about Arteta’s approach reasonable given that the frontman scored those hugely important strikes under the talented tactician at the end of 19/20?
To be honest, it’s hard to not sympathise with Arteta, owing to the profile of players he has at his disposal. The recent weeks have revealed why Houssem Aouar was chased, and while Thomas Partey’s addition potentially adds a lot of positive things to the side, their glaring creativity problem remains a bugbear.
Arsenal lack a genuine playmaker in the side — well, there’s Mesut Ozil but he’s strangely persona non grata with the regime at the moment — and it’s up to their astute trainer to find solutions as Auba has seemingly been nullified in recent contests. Some might suggest this was a matter of time, given how reliant the north London side were on their captain to deliver in the final third last term.
It was interesting to see how Guardiola silenced the attacker on Saturday, deploying Kyle Walker as a right-sided centre-back to limit his effectiveness.
Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins
Arsenal opened its fourth straight Europa League campaign with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Rapid Vienna on Thursday in an opening round of games affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Star striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench to score the winning goal in the 74th for Arsenal, which won its group in its previous three campaigns in the second-tier European competition. Roma also came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Young Boys, as did Granada to upset PSV Eindhoven away.
Having punished his City team with a brace in the FA Cup semi-final in July from only three shots, Pep restricted the frontman’s efforts to zilch this time around.
Although still early doors, an interesting observation in Auba’s average heat map shows how the striker spends less time in the opposition’s box, compared to last season.
This may well change as the games come thick and fast but the current facts are striking, nonetheless.
With other top contenders for the Golden Boot currently firing on all fronts, Auba already has a lot of catching up to do if he’s to compete for or win the top scorers award for a second time.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Heung-min Son have netted seven respectively, Mohamed Salah has hit six, one more than the pair of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy and two higher than teammate Sadio Mane.
In spite of the current lean run in front of goal, maybe Gooners shouldn’t fret too much as this isn’t unprecedented in Auba’s Arsenal career.
He went on a four-game drought either side of the lockdown before hitting a brace against Norwich City and a further three in five starts.
Earlier, as Unai Emery’s reign unravelled, the frontman scored one in six games, before hitting six in the following nine games.
However, digging deeper, the striker’s shot statistics in his identical drought last term highlights numbers which put current scarcity in context.
Despite not hitting the back of the net vs West Ham, Man City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton, Auba attempted a staggering 13 attempts in those four games — one, two, seven and three respectively — 10 higher than he’s managed in this current dry spell.
This will definitely worry even the most optimistic supporter, given how the side have leaned on Aubameyang in the last two years.
Arteta has certainly stabilised Arsenal in less than a year in charge. Still, how he navigates a tricky period for his team’s best player will go a long way in the North London club’s push to end in the automatic Champions League spots as well as compete for the Europa League.
'Fed up' Arteta admits Saliba could leave Arsenal .
The Gunners defender has yet to make a senior appearance since his £25m move from Saint-Etienne and could depart in JanuaryThe Gunners’ boss was responding to reports from France that Saliba is ‘fed up’ with his lack of football in north London.