Mikel Arteta has backed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to find his form in front of goal and says he remains open to playing his captain in a central position.
The Gabon international proved talismanic last season scoring the goals that won Arsenal a 14th FA Cup on his way to an impressive 29-goal total. He even started the new campaign with eye-catching strikers against Liverpool – in the Community Shield – and Fulham, but since then has struggled in an Arsenal attacking unit that has looked very disjointed.
That his form has tailed off after signing a new big-money contract, coupled with Arteta’s insistence on fielding him on the left wing, has led to much teeth-gnashing amongst fans.
So what’s going on with Auba? And how do we get him firing on all cylinders?
“We need to help him more,” said the boss on Friday. “He knows himself as well, what he can do, the things he needs to improve in his game to be more decisive. That’s it. It will come.
“I’ve not known any striker in the world who for 10 years has not had a period not scoring as much. It’s how you navigate through that period and how quickly you come back to do what you’ve always done, which for them is something normal.
“Just take it in a natural way without putting too much pressure on yourself and as coaches, we need to find ways to help him as much as we can.”
As for playing the 31-year-old in his favoured central position. It’s not out of the question said the boss.
“I’m open to many options. I’m open to different formations and to change the team with different names.
“We have to accommodate our players as you mentioned. It’s very important that the players build relationships, it’s very important how you adjust the attacking and defensive sides to get that cohesion as a team. Then these things evolve.
“There are moments when you have needs in one position and others with another position, but it’s always a possibility to [play Auba centrally].”