In light of Arsenal’s struggles in front of goal this season, there has been a big clamour for Mikel Arteta to deploy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the centre of his attack.
To date, the Spaniard has preferred to start his captain – the club’s top scorer in the last two seasons – on the left flank with Eddie Nketiah, Alex Lacazette, and even Willian, preferred in the middle.
The decision has proved a bit of a head-scratcher to supporters who are struggling to understand why a striker with such a prolific record in front of goal isn’t given the chance to lead the line.
While Arteta isn’t ruling it out, he maintains that he’ll adapt his selections and tactics based on the opposition.
“Yes, that’s a very possible thing,” he replied when asked if he’s tempted to move the Gabon international into a central role.
“It will depend on the games, it will depend on who he’s surrounded with. I think it’s very important to see who is around him and why we’re doing it. Not just the fact we’re doing it, why we’re doing that and what we’re going to get by doing these positive things. Of course, there’s a very strong possibility to play him as a [number] 9.”
While Aubameyang has found the net three times this season, he’s currently on a five-game streak without a goal in the Premier League. It’s a worry, especially as his shot count is also suffering.
Asked if the striker is suffering from a lack of confidence and if there’s anything he can do to rectify that, Arteta said: “If you ask me about any other player I’d say we have to do a lot of work with his confidence. With Auba, I don’t think it’s a case of that.”
He also reiterated that helping Aubameyang score is a collective effort.
“From our side we have to give him more opportunities, more shots, put him in better positions,” he said. “We must try to accumulate more players around him to create better situations for him and he has to step in as well. When that happens, he has the right opportunity.
“In these games you’re not going to have 10 [opportunities] playing against a low block, you have to make it happen like he did a week ago in the Europa League [against Rapid Vienna].
“He’s so used to that, teams pay a lot of attention to him, that’s why sometimes we have to change the positions because every team is going to be preparing things to stop him.
“We have to bear that in mind so we have to distract the opponent other positions, other movement, other relationships in the pitch. We try to accommodate him without losing him in the position that he’s clinical.”