Mikel Arteta has dismissed suggestions that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form this season is in any way related to the new contract he signed at the end of the last campaign.
Some fans, perhaps still scarred by Mesut Ozil’s drastic drop-off in productivity after he signed his £350,000 per week deal in January 2018, have drawn a line between the two things, but it’s something that the Arsenal boss is not willing to entertain.
Aubameyang has scored 14 goals this season, well below what was expected, but there have been reasons for that beyond an increase in salary and a settled future, and the boss has no doubts about the 31 year old’s commitment.
“It’s easy to connect things when you relate it like that,” said Arteta, “but I’m not suspicious of that.
“We’ve had many conversations about what he wants to do – from last’s year point of view, to his near future, to the next two years. He was very ambitious.
“But then to maintain that level, it’s really complicated. He’s trying very hard, and that’s where he’s aiming to do.”
Nevertheless, Arteta does acknowledge that if the team are to achieve the goals in front of us, domestically and in Europe, Aubameyang needs to rediscover the kind of form that saw him lead the team to FA Cup success last season.
“We have talked for months, obviously, that the rate of goals that we need him to score and to give us the best possible chance to be at the top, is not been what has been in recent years,” he said.
“It’s a factor that is contributed by a lot of things that the team has to do on the pitch. It’s not just his thing.
“But obviously, we need Auba in a different form in the next game to give us our best chance, as well, to finish where we want to finish in the season.
A goal or two against the Mugsmashers on Saturday evening would be a lovely way to get back on track after a difficult couple of weeks, and a good warm-up for our Europa League quarter-finals against Slavia Prague.