Arteta backs “hungry” Auba, Emery wary of his former “killer”

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Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is “hungry to do something” after returning to full fitness following a bad encounter with malaria.

After ending the last campaign as the club’s FA Cup-winning hero, the 31-year-old club captain, fresh from signing a big-money contract extension, was supposed to be the talismanic figurehead as his manager’s project stepped up a gear. It hasn’t worked out that way.

While 15 goals and 3 assists are nothing to sniff at, our striker’s goal tally is way down on what Gunners fans have been used to since he joined from Dortmund in January 2018.

2017/18 – 10 goals in 14 games
2018/19 – 31 goals in 51 games
2019/20 – 29 goals in 44 games

With teammates not exactly picking up the slack, the lack of killer instinct has cost the team dearly on the domestic front and hopes of qualifying for the Champions League now hang by a thread.

While a number of factors have played a part in Auba’s hit-and-miss performances – off-field issues and a lack of creativity around him certainly haven’t helped – Arteta believes his striker is in the mood to put things right.

“You know Auba’s character, he’s someone really lively, always joking, always smiling,” said the boss ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg with Villarreal.

“He had a difficult season so many of us as a club and a staff try to support him as much as possible the way that the team did as well.

“When he had some personal issues they were right behind him. As I said before football gives you an opportunity. He’s in a good place right now and he’s very hungry to do something.”

He added: “Everything affects but you have to come through that. It’s about how you react to the difficulties in your career which you’re going to have at some stage.

“He had some this season and it’s about showing the direction and the capacity to overcome that.”

The importance of delivering on the pitch tonight isn’t lost on Aubameyang. In fairness, he’s done pretty well in big games since he joined and this is certainly one of those.

Reflecting on the job at hand, he said: “I am really excited to play this game tomorrow because it is a big game and it’s a big moment for all of us. Hopefully, we deliver again.

“For sure it will be one of [the biggest games of my Arsenal career]. Definitely this season is the most important game and we know that we have to win this game.

“It is a big opportunity for us to get to the final, we play at home and this is maybe the biggest game of my Arsenal career.”

Having worked with him for 18 months, former boss Unai Emery is certainly wary of the striker leading Arsenal’s attack.

“Aubameyang is a killer,” said the Villarreal coach on Wednesday. 

“He was, he is and he will always be. He has been through a process of being out of the team because of the illness he has had but he is back.

“He is there to work, to defend the team and give everything for the team, hoping he can perform at the top level and if that happens he is going to be very difficult to stop.

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Paul

The handshake before the fist fight.

In other news, Chelsea are in the champions league final again.

RESPECT.

Daveo

I downvoted because you put followed a sentence about Chelsea with respect. I’m feeling a little queasy just from reading that.

Spanish Gooner

You’re right – after the Super League threat to our beloved game last month it really does warm the soul to see a game between a Russian oligarch and a bloke personally responsable for a humanitarian crisis in Yemen. RESPECT!

d0ey

Bit of an odd reply here. You support Arsenal even though we have got Kroenke because we separate the team from the shit owner. You can’t really blame Chelsea the team for their shit owner.

I saw a team that was languishing midtable at Xmas comfortably manage Real Madrid over two legs, with a goal scored by a decent young British player to cap it all off. I may not support them, but I can absolutely acknowledge the impressiveness of that feat

MARIO DIAMANT

Well said.
I wonder how some would feel if we got bought out by a gazzilionaire willing to pay out of pocket to buy the top 5-6 players in the world tomorrow and chase the glory rather that a balanced financial sheet.
we get haaland, mbappe, thrown in a few mids and defenders and we are all buying their jerseys celebrating success rather than hoping for longshot access to top 4 and champions league 🙂

Johnny 4 Hats

Thing is with Emery, he’s got an amazing track record of holding second leg leads.

But wait….!

Biggles

Well, we would certainly want to emulate both the CL finalists but I fear we’re a long way away from doing that (for a number of reasons). May be worthwhile just reviewing the breakdown of earnings from the CL vs EL. The winners of the CL will have earned over €100 million in total. If we win the EL, we’ll have earned around €25 million in total. For a further perspective, qualifying for the CL would get us €30 million, with more depending upon progress made. This shows the drop in potential income we’ve had for several seasons now. It… Read more »

Spanish Gooner

Nobody is expecting us to win the CL any time soon – even Real Madrid are struggling to compete against the finances of teams like City – but that £30m from the Europa League final is still more than West Ham, Leicester, Aston Villa, Everton and Sp*rs earned. There’s no reason we should be behind any of them!

Biggles

I agree that we don’t look like winning the CL anytime soon – I think (hope) that’s what I said in my earlier post. You’re right in saying that the €25 million (a little lower than your figure) is more than the teams listed will earn. However, that assumes we’ll win the EL – still quite a assumption I think. Also as we all know it’s the unfortunate fact that we are behind the teams listed, whether we should be or not. The reason we’re behind them is that, currently, we’re not as good as them. The old adage, the… Read more »

Paul

Yeah, Biggles, we can only dream.

I read your comments a lot and you seem like a rational fella.

Some of our (Arsenal) fans will condemn Man C and Chelsea, because they have rich owners who pump money into their clubs, which I don’t mind.

What’s perplexing is when same people castigate our owner for not pumping money into the club too.

I mean, you either support/oppose something fully. Rather than changing your tune when it suits you.

Am I missing something?

Biggles

Yes, that’s a point. I think that ideally many Gooners would like a hugely wealthy owner to pump the same kind of money into the club as has been done at the likes of City and Chelsea but for him also to be a “real” fan of the club as well, not a businessman looking at the bottom line. Unfortunately, Stan fails on both counts – hence his unpopularity over a long period.

Fabregooner

Like I said before, there’s no real fan consensus on what we want. Which is a problem as the demonstrations continue. Personally I’m totally opposed to a rich owner pumping cash into my club. There’s a word for it, it’s call doping. You can’t rail against Abramovitch and a rich oil state pumping money into Chelsea and City and then want the same thing. Arsenal have proven you can be self-sufficient and still one of the top ten richest clubs in the world. I just think it’s what you do with it – better management overall, better recruitment, truly making… Read more »

Daveo

Here, here. The failings of the Kroenkes are there lack of interest – this is an appreciating investment that requires minimal effort and their complete lack of awareness of European footballing traditions and history (which relates back to the first point). They’ve employed some guys to run things and they’ve done that poorly. The ESL thing was farcical and embarrassing and by all reports they played a much bigger role than they are letting on (Josh is telling lies, saying we just didn’t want to miss out). Again the only way we’re doing away with them is boycotting Arsenal products… Read more »

Qwaliteee

But he doesn’t ‘pump in’ money.

He sparingly loans the odd lump sum, once every two seasons if we’re extremely lucky – and even then Arteta or Edu or whoever has to practically get down on their hands and knees in Kroenke’s office and beg him.

And people still back him.

DB10s airmiles

Manipulating and back dating state owned company sponsorship deals to circumnavigate FFP etc might have something to do with people’s opposition to Man City…. Personally, I’d rather clubs earned and spent their own money rather than achieve success through fraudulent practices but I guess not everyone agrees.

Paul

Daveo: “I downvoted because you put followed a sentence about Chelsea with respect. I’m feeling a little queasy just from reading that.” Spanish Gooner: “You’re right – after the Super League threat to our beloved game last month it really does warm the soul to see a game between *a Russian oligarch and a bloke personally responsable for a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.* RESPECT!” But… Fans want Kronke to INVEST his funds into the club. Fans want Ek, who makes money off of paying musicians very low rates to come buy and INVEST in the club. See why I said… Read more »

RunningRayRunningdownthewing

Paul, you haven’t been smoking that fertilizer have you, mate?

Paul

LOL, No sir!

I don’t smoke, I get more high from reading a few pages. 🙂

Giuseppe Hovno

nothing you’ve said is making any point at all. different fans want different things. they’re not one big homogenous blob. also the spotify business model is unfair, much like Kroenke’s wealth, but the chelsea and city owners are on a wholey different moral level

Biggles

I think we can agree that all fans want the club to be successful. Most of them realise that in the modern world that means an owner or consortium putting large amounts of money into the business – to buy success, frankly (or attempt to, anyway). I doubt that City or Chelsea fans will be that bothered about the moral integrity of their respective owners should their club win the CL final. Perhaps they should be, but we’re in the “what is” world, not the “”what if” one, aren’t we.

Fabregooner

Don’t agree – we’re already the 9th richest club in the world, without needing an injection of huge amounts of money. We’ve just been wasting huge transfers on the wrong players and allowing big assets to walk away for nothing. And our decline has meant no Champions League riches.

Spanish Gooner

What Arsenal fans are asking for: -an owner that invests some money up front to get us over the line which will in turn make the club more profitable in the future, like Liverpool’s did when they gave some extra money for Alisson/Fabinho because they recognised Klopp was close to something great What Arsenal fans aren’t asking for: -the de-facto Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi to spend £1.5 billion turning the club into a reputation-laundering machine for a repressive state. Those two things aren’t the same and it’s intellectually honest to pretend they are. It’s like seeing somebody give a… Read more »

Qwaliteee

🤣

Mate, over here Arsenal fans hate Chelsea. As for respect, they only get begrudged acknowledgement whenever they beat Sp*rs. Other than that – zilch.

Arron

Very generous of you. Can’t say I’m inclined to echo you praise. Respect?

Bren Roberts

I wonder if he has been suffering from Malaria longer than we, and possibly he, realise.

It is a pernicious, evil and debilitating disease and once in your system never leaves although it’s effects may vary as time passed.

I hope tonight and in the final Auba is bang on form and his malaria takes a back seat.

#Up The Arse!

Daveo

Team with Tierney: Leno-Heccy-Holding-Gabriel-Tierney Xhaka-Partey Saka-Odergaard-ESR Auba without Tierney: Leno-Heccy-Holding-Gabriel-Saka Xhaka-Partey Odergaard-ESR-Martinelli Auba I really want ESR and Odergaard in tonight. People talk about them not working together, but IMO this is bollocks, some of our best attack is with them in combo with Saka. Having direct Auba up top with that dynamic trio (and tierney) supporting is killer – exactly the type of support Auba thrives in. I also agree a bit with Arteta about Tierney actually affecting Martinelli. It’s not the best combo because Tierney get’s into his space a lot, and Gaby works brilliantly when he’s not… Read more »

Spanish Gooner

Think it’s a bit harsh to drop Pepe for this one personally – he’s in good form and he has produced in pretty much every big game since he’s joined. -Assist vs City in the FA cup semi -Assist (and brilliant disallowed goal) in the final -Goal vs Villarreal -Goals vs Slavia Prague home and away If TIerney can’t play I’d like to see him left wing with Cedric at left back, or Saka at left back with Pepe RW. Martinelli has barely played this year so I can’t see Arteta starting him tonight, plus it would be good to… Read more »

Daveo

If Tierney can’t go, I’d equally be happy with Saka LB and a front four of:
Pepe-Odergaard-ESR
Auba.
[and you’re right it’s probably more likely than Martinelli].

But, if Tierney can play, I don’t see the right balance with Auba up top and Saka and Pepe on the wings. I’m really crossing my fingers on Tierney, and I see a combo of ESR-Odergaard as pivotal to unlocking the directness of Auba-Saka and Tierney.

Biggles

If there is ever a time for a striker to have a good appetite, then it’s surely tonight.

Eric Blair

Wasn’t Balogun also really hungry according to Arteta? What are/aren’t they feeding them?

Gatheenge

This illness that aubameyang had has created moments in the team. The process now is for him to be a protagonist in every minute and become a killer at specific times during 90 minutes and after that.

Daveo

Are you Unai Emery?

Victor Lin

No! This is Arteta. Mind game!

Spanish Gooner

If by protagonist you mean starting Lichtensteiner in a back 5 at home to Brighton then I suggest you invest in some anti-grease shampoo

Disarmed Gunner

Emery has this in the bag if he doesn’t apply the handbrake like he did in the first leg. Tactically Arteta is clueless and best we can hope for is another penalty that never was. And even then, it’s gonna be a hell of a nervous game, knowing that if at anytime Villarreal get that away goal we are gonna be fucked.

Spanish Gooner

VIllarreal honestly aren’t that good a team – they’ve lost to Osasuna and Betis at home since Christmas and bottled the Copa del Rey QF to Levante. It’s not quite the same as Slavia Prague, but as somebody that has watched both teams this year we’re favourites if both teams play to their full potential

Disarmed Gunner

I definitely don’t watch enough of Villarreal to know lots about them, but I definitely saw enough last week to know that they are better organized, better in possession, better at pressing and generally better all round as a teamthan we are. I saw an ex Spurs reject absolutely shred us. We were so so lucky to leave with an away goal as we were creating sweet fuck all otherwise. Problem with this fanbase is we seem to suffer from weekly amnesia. We see how bad it is every week but we still hope that they’ll turn it on from… Read more »

Disarmed Gunner

It’s wasn’t because of anything we did exceptional. FFS why isn’t there an edit post grace feature for 10 minutes or so after making a post? I write in a hurry at work so can’t avoid the odd auto correct stinker

chepetin

So I guess you are saying that you are the Emery of commenters? You start off strong in the first half of your post, but then something goes wrong and after you post and reflect on your comment you wish you could have a do-over….

Spanish Gooner

I know stats aren’t everything, but Villarreal had an xG of 1.35 vs our 1.36 which more or less follows my eye test of two teams that didn’t do anything particularly special. Considering we had no strikers, no left back and our most reliable CM was out of position I really don’t think it shows a massive gap in quality. Their only players who would be starters in our team are Parejo and Pau Torres and I don’t think anybody here will claim they have a genius as a coach. Be positive!

Daveo

Come on man, that expected goal take is a terrible one:

https://www.fotmob.com/livescores/3557707/stats/villarreal-vs-arsenal

The expected goals here are 1.25 vs 1.19. Of Arsenal’s 1.19, 0.79 was from a penalty that came from a dive – that is 66% of our expected goal total. We had an absolutely pathetic open play expected goal of 0.19 (additional 0.21 from set pieces) vs 0.62 and 0.63, respectively by Villareal.

Whether by the stats or the eye test we were dominated in the first leg. A fitting result was 2-0 or 3-0, we’re at 2-1 because of a dive.

Spanish Gooner

I agree our expected goals are generous, but what I’m trying to say is we weren’t blown away by any means and I don’t think there’s any evidence from that first leg that says we shouldn’t expect to beat them tonight. Especially with our away goal it’s equivalent to having Leeds at home in a cup tie and conceding a stupid goal in the first minute – it’s not ideal but you’d still absolutely expect us to win

IamsterdamGooner

This is true. They lost to Alaves as well a couple weeks back. They’re not that good, not that bad. But we wore just shit first time round. Let’s hope we can turn that round tonight!

Domi

Not true. I’ve watched them against Dinamo Zagreb and they were better over both legs than spuds, very organized, focused with a good game plan and wanting to have a ball. Guess emery knows a bit more about what he’s doing in Spanish than in other countries. And his focus is good on EL as we know.

MinsterGunner

Regardless of the game-state, bringing Martinelli on at the 65-70 minute mark makes sense. If we’re losing, we’ll need some dynamism and energy to destabilise the inevitable low block. If we’re winning, we’ll need a chaser/harrier to ensure we avoid our (often ineffective, always nerve-jangling) tactic of sitting back and repelling the waves. I’d love to see our left-sided forward (be it Pepe or ESR) be used à la Shinji Okazaki during Leicester’s Prem-winning season; run your absolute nuts off, tire them out, try and produce something early in the game, and know in advance that your engine only has… Read more »

Flummoxed

I quite like the sound of that, yet for some reason I feel it unlikely to happen that way.

Snc

Let’s hope everyone put in their shift. No more excuses. I’d really like to see an all English final in both CL and EL. Goes to show how strong the EPL are. Man utd will most probably get to the final given their first leg result unless miracle happens. COYG!

Zet

Stop the talk. Walk the talk.
No more post match apology.

Biggles

Yes, no more “we’ll learn the lesson for next time” (hopefully, that won’t be necessary though).

Granit(e) hard!

Ok, lets go kill them then, just protagonise the hell out of them lads

Geo

“Teammates not exactly picking up the slack”?! Laca has 17 goals and Saka is easily our player of the season.

Bottom line, it’s a semi. Don’t care who scores just win! COYG!

Fatgooner

Shame that while the Chavs have just qualified for the big one we’re shopping at Primark, hoping we can squeeze past the Southampton of Spanish football.

chepetin

I expect Arsenal to step up tonight and do the job. That begins with the manager and selecting the right team. I’d like to see us start on the match on the front foot and play with energy. Pace causes the opponent to have to make quick decisions and I am confident our movement will cause Villarreal to make mistakes. I think we will capitalise on those mistakes and be clinical in our passing and in front of goal. Then we will be off to the final. Several years ago we couldn’t seem to beat Chelsea but since then we… Read more »

STUART BRADLEY

I for one am just relieved to be anticipating Arsenal playing in a big game rather than hearing endless drab narrative about billionaires and the Super Duper League (and I don’t mean on Arseblog, BTW). Screw all that noise, at least for 90 minutes. COYG.

Arron

Ha, Emery, love his vampire lingo.