Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored just two Premier League goals this season.
Post-goal concession, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stands over the ball to restart the game with his hands on his hips with a face full of misery. Worryingly, this is becoming something of a trademark stance for the Arsenal club captain.
Aubameyang isn’t an archetypal Premier League captain. He doesn’t bark orders, nor does he discipline his teammates. Instead, when the going gets tough, Aubameyang often sinks into the shadows of dismay surrounding him.
Right now, those shadows are unquestionably present at Arsenal. The defensive solidity of the back end of the 2018/19 season is now a distant memory and Arsenal’s attacking output is ominously below par. The poor form doesn’t reflect well on Aubameyang.
The reason it does not reflect well on Aubameyang isn’t because he’s solely responsible, but because of what he represents as club captain. He is supposed to be the captain who sets the standard. The captain who is simultaneously the team’s most valuable player.
His own poor form means he is not setting those high standards right now. Of course, there are mitigating factors. The supporting act behind him isn’t being particularly supportive, by example. However, examining him individually suggests he isn’t exactly covering himself in glory.
Uncharacteristically, there is a notable poor body language present in Aubameyang’s game at the moment. Nonetheless, considering he touched the ball 22 times against Wolves, the fewest number of touches he has had in a single game this season, the lack of positivity in Aubameyang at the moment is understandable.
Furthermore, the Gabon International has never been the player to single-handedly win games for Arsenal. He is not Alexis Sanchez. He relies on those around him to elevate him.
He’s made up for his lack of constant influence in a game over the course of the last few seasons by dramatically outperforming his expected goal total by slotting away ‘chances’ which shouldn’t have found the net. Thus, his impact on games has been adequate.
This season, he isn’t doing that. Additionally, the fact he isn’t scoring the half-chances is emphasising Arsenal’s creative issues. In consequence, these creative issues result in Aubameyang looking as if he is in catastrophically terrible form when he isn’t firing on all cylinders.
However, this doesn’t make Aubameyang immune of criticism. He’ll know better than most that his current level of performance is far from acceptable and he desperately needs to re-discover his goalscoring touch. If he does, it won’t just be to his own benefit, but to the whole team.
If he isn’t willing to confront the media himself, and instead a 21-year-old Joe Willock did the post-match talking, Auba better start doing his own talking on the pitch. The pressure is on.
After signing his new contract, the Gabonese striker spoke of leaving a “legacy” at Arsenal. One senses the next few weeks could go some way towards how exactly captain Aubameyang will be remembered. Will he lead Arsenal out of this current dark tunnel or will he contribute to the potential extension of the downward trajectory? Only time will tell.