Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The Arsenal Conundrum

People are understandably aggrieved after Sunday night.

Who will be the most disheartened? It would be wrong to suggest that any one person associated with Arsenal will be more so than the other, in truth.

Fans, players, staff and manager alike met the final whistle with sour grimaces. So too would have Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng, who is now faced with his longest run of Premier League fixtures without a goal: five.

Not a figure that would normally stir uproar, but in the context of him as a player and what he’s become synonymous with at Arsenal thus far, perhaps it is.

The old adage of playing your best players in their best positions comes to the fore in this instance. A forward who’s excelled in the central role, but discovered a new niche as the most advanced of a front three down the left, was involved in a ploy on Sunday that didn’t work.

Because he isn’t a right-winger.

What benefits come from playing down the left wing need not repeating, nor do those from a central position, but he is wasted on the opposite flank: a method Unai Emery employed with little effect, despite him having scored five goals in 11 outings in that role.

Arsenal have not clicked in the final third, and they won’t if square pegs continue to be forced into round holes. Trawling through hours of clips of painful paucity in that area will cough up any number of failings, but a dearth of incisive movement is doing little to solve Mikel Arteta’s blunt forward prong.

You have a side sitting low, unwilling to surrender their defensive duties, and the player with the best movement in that area shackled with an obligation to sacrifice his own freedoms for the sake of other, less potent teammates.

Midfielders faced with static positioning are left with arms aloft in search of some interchanging, that which they won’t get with Aubameyang adding width when Hector Bellerin comes infield. If Arteta were to have scribbled down a checklist of options to solve his side’s bland attacking bravado, we can hope this one would be crossed off with permanent marker.

Something has got to give. That first half? Excellent. 11 shots for crying out loud, yet Aubameyang had two of them. Does he miss that Alexandre Lacazette chance, or does he play the ball to the Frenchman’s feet instead of his head? Hypothetical, but at least he’d have been there.

A side so reliant on the partnerships they forge down the left hand side – Tierney/Aubamayeng, Gabriel/Xhaka – being then willing to remove their largest goal threat from the equation (and away from the goal mouth) needs re-thinking. Well, no….it needs scrapping entirely.

There is no easy fix to shy nature of Arsenal in and around the box. No one immediate solution or missing component. However, there is no pretext for Aubameyang being on the right. Whatever the magic ether may be, it doesn’t involved the captain down the right. It just doesn’t.