Arteta: Auba needs more ball around the box


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s match-winning contribution against Rapid Vienna was a timely reminder that the striker, who’d been on a four-game goal drought, hasn’t forgotten how to put the ball in the onion bag.

After a muted performance in the defeat to Manchester City and no goals since he put pen-to-paper on his new big-money contract, questions were being asked about how to get the best from the club captain and why Mikel Arteta so regularly opts to play him off the left flank.

Ahead of Sunday’s game with Leicester, the boss made clear that his captain will just have to deal with the weight of expectation while admitting his side need to do more to get the striker into better positions around the penalty area.

Expectations for him are that he has to score a goal every game,” he said.

“So this comes with the nature of the big player that he is, what he has done in the past. People expect that from him in the future.

“We are here to help him with that, and we will support him when difficult times come around him.

“He needs to get in more goalscoring opportunities, he needs to get the ball more round the box, in order to do what he is able to do.”

Arteta was also keen to point out that his side have played a lot of matches against high calibre opposition.

“If you look at our fixtures we have already played five games out of seven against top, top opposition,” said the boss.

“It is the same for him or (Manchester City striker) Sergio Aguero, who didn’t have a shot on target as well on the weekend. It is not an isolation of just our player.”

As for moving Aubameyang into a central position – a role usually reserved fro Eddie Nketiah and Alex Lacazette but also one that Willian attempted at the Etihad – the boss sounded pretty bored of the conversation.

“That [talk] is always going to happen,” he said.

“The moment he does not score, he needs to play as a number nine.

“If you play him as a nine, why don’t you keep him on the left because he has been so successful on the left. Its going to happen, I know.”

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jordan Tan

It doesn’t take a genius to see this: 1. More forward passes either through middle or via the wings. 2. Occasional high ball over the top for wingers to chase, hold, then switch wings. 3. More through balls. Yes he who attempts more through balls will lose more balls, but also score some hits. Let Auba Pepe do the running. This would keep their defenders guessing and always prepare, this limiting their movement to more advanced positions. 4. MOVE THE BALL FASTER once ball recovered before opponent have time to reshape. 5. More quick 1-2s & forward probing triangles. Play… Read more »

Michael Bolton Wanderers

3. I wish Pepe would do more runs behind opposition defence. Something he can improve


How about the good old 442 tomorrow people?

Bellerin Luiz Gabriel Tierney
Willian Ceballos Partey Saka
Pepe Aubameyang

Got a feeling this could work. Gets Auba and Pepe into the danger zone.


Like it. Could also easily morph into a 433 or 343.

David C

Willian’s had one good game for us. I’d like to see Nelson or one of the younger guys given a chance in that position.


I think one of our biggest issues at the moment is getting the midfield to connect with our attack, so a flat 4-4-2 probably wouldn’t help with that unless one of Aubameyang or Pepe dropped deep to collect the ball.

I think a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 would be better with either Saka at LCM and Willan LW (4-3-3), or Saka at LAM and Willian at 10 (4-2-3-1).

Why does Willian always get a game?


because he costs £220 000 per week and had a royal bonus (with his agent) to sign his contract.

Public Elneny

Willian’s a decent player. But, like the rest of our attacking players, he’s struggling due to structural/tactical reasons

And he’s versatile (but not a centre forward), which will always increase his game time


Yep we are playing some pretty turgid football at the moment


…and why isn’t it Ceballos the 1st who came up as an idea if it is about creativity? I think he is clearly our best passer…


Xhaka and Thomas before the back-line and Saka, Ceballos, Pepe supporting Auba…


Aguero hasn’t scored in 8 games… imagine if that was Auba or Laca (an emerging scapegoat amongst our fanbase)

Malaysian gunner

Agree with JT. Arsenal must move the ball quickly otherwise defences will close up the gaps.


I still think we rely upon Auba too much. There’s little evidence of anyone else scoring consistently and putting most of our eggs in the Auba basket seems risky. Pepe is an obvious candidate but overall the jury is still out on him.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Absolutely true, the other big scorer should have been Laca. He has scored three already but we all know he is in a persistent bad form, has no confidence and we cannot rely on him.


Not wanting to flog the old Ramsey horse, but none of our midfielders get into the sort of positions he did. Perhaps Partey could do it, but it may not be in his remit.


Smith Rowe will do it soon


I get Arteta’s annoyance because Auba has scored goals from the wing in the past, but teams are figuring out that they can nullify him there if they deny him space in behind. In those situations we need our midfield to be more creative and offensive. Playing Auba on the left also means one less spot for a creative player that can unlock defences. So moving him to the middle should kill two birds with one stone.


With midfield likely to be Xhaka, Ceballos & Partey, Aubameyang would need to move central if we are ever to see Saka play regularly.

I just don’t see we are creating enough chances with the current system and another creative wide forward would do more good than Lacazette or Nketiah.


Unfortunately for Xhaka, he might not always make that mix. I could easily see Saka on the left, pushing high on the wing for an overload with Tierney when Auba drifts in. It’s not the true forward wing role, but the way we play it, with the whole perimeter of our lineup smooshing clockwise, it can make for a strong left-sided attack. Very Arsenal.


What you say makes some sense, but all managers seem very wedded to the idea of Xhaka.

For me, Saka is more effective the further up the pitch he is. With so little creativity in the team, I can’t see why he wouldn’t play.



John C

We already do that and it being figured out by the opposition


Those last couple lines are not very encouraging for adaption from our current system that is creating little, and has basically sold out the middle of the pitch and to an extent the right flank due to how isolated that side is. There are some eerie similarities to last year cropping up… Come on mikel, please don’t fall into the trap of believing to strongly in your system. EPL success is about adaption. We’re at a point where we need to do that… Over to you mikel…


It was the speed of our build up against Citeh (or lack there of) that made it easy for them to isolate him. And again on Thursday we were so slow playing out from the back (and getting caught). If we can drive it forward with Partey and Cebellos quickly drawing defenses out, we might see Auba get a little more opportunity. Although he has to get more involved if we are being pressed back and not stay out on the left waiting for something to happen.


Sounds like a well written review of all our outings to the top teams. He just gets so few chances.

Remember when we created a lot of chances and would score one in three. To keep the goals tally going, he has had to score virtually all chances and that is not sustainable.

Jeremy DG

I can almost see what Arteta is trying to do and we will likely improve over time but In some cases he’s trying to be too clever. We have so many talented wide players and Auba is more effective down the middle as he keeps showing every time he plays there. Please stop trying to prove everyone wrong Mikel. It is the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Arsene and Emery both found stubbornness cost them their jobs.


I know it’s taboo, but then why not Özil? Ok, sorry… I forgot his last ball ever in an Arsenal shirt was a golden assist to Laca and we talk about Auba.


Mate, it’s all done and dusted: over.

That said, so are our chances of top four, because the current AMs we have are nowhere near good enough. It’s going to take another big loan from Stan in the summer to sort it out.

John C

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we haven’t made the top 4 for the last 4 seasons


Which is down to Mustafi shipping goals and precious Premiership points.

You Anti Ozil folk make me laugh. You’ll be blaming him for Covid 19 next.


He is Över & Öut. Time to mÖve Ön.

It’s all about MÖzil Elneny now…


Över and öut makes it sound a bit Canadian 🇨🇦

Hank Scorpio

He’s the most obvious choice for the advanced midfield role and you’d think from a pragmatic point he’d be used to some degree but clearly not an option now. Time for everyone to move on as Ozil won’t play for Arsenal again. It’s up to Arteta to find a formation that shares the creative burden. I’m assuming that by excluding Ozil he feels he’s already got it sorted.

Public Elneny

As I see it, we have there are 3 main reasons behind our attacking disfunction. 1st, our deep lying midfielders lack the ability to move the ball forward quickly and through the middle 2nd, we don’t have anyone in our attacking unit to stitch the play together. There is never anyone near Auba/Pepe/Laca to take the ball off them and return it in a more dangerous position. As it is, when they receive the ball they’re totally isolated, always doubled up on. Always in positions where it requires sheer brilliance to just advance the move even a little bit. I… Read more »


I suggest Ozil would be the perfect solution. Scream as much as you want, bitch!


If we see balls moving fast around the box it’s a real sign of decent penetration and hopefully it will all come together.


Shame on you

Artetas Assistant



Brilliant, snagger🤣


Another benefit of playing Auba up top (with 4 at the back): poor Blogs can chill and stop banging his drum! Lol.


This guy played Willian in the middle. No more needs to be said.

Regardless of whatever tactical reasons are being given against playing Auba centrally, it is something that has to inevitably happen due to age.

Ronaldo and Messi being in their 30s play a lot more centrally than out wide these days. It puts less onus on work-rate and ensures they still have the legs to play the next game

John C

I personally feel that the current 343 hybrid formation has lost its effectiveness as teams just know it’s coming now. Tactical innovations like that work in the short term but the longer you use them the more opportunity you give the opposition to work them out and i think that’s where we are at the moment. It’s doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective again, it just won’t be unless we develop an alternative to keep the opposition guessing. Our current move also starts so deep it’s particularly easy to counteract. Now we have Partey I’d like to see us… Read more »

Tanned arse

Arteta is going to keep playing auba on the left. He’s right, he can score from there. Create him chances and he’ll score from coming from that side. The issue is auba doesn’t create much for others or have much involvement. That’s fine. Wouldn’t always expect that if he plays down the middle. We’re replacing a central goalscoring forward with a left sided goalscoring forward. It’s essentially a straight swap. Problem is goalscorers need creators and we’re not replacing the loss of a left sided creator to a central creator. We replaced that with a hold up player (none of… Read more »

100 % Ambazonian

“Auba needs more ball around the box”, so how to fix the problem?
“Oh, wait I got a brilliant idea: so I will play him on the right side, further away from the box”.
What a genius!!