Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists he is not surprised by any criticism levelled at captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the forward is expected to score in every game he plays.
The 31-year-old has been Arsenal’s talisman in front of goal since his arrival in January 2018 but he had gone four matches without scoring until hitting the winner in Thursday’s 2-1 Europa League victory at Rapid Vienna.
Having started the season with fine strikes against Liverpool in the Community Shield and on the opening day of the Premier League campaign at Fulham, Aubameyang then drew a blank.
He also struggled for goalscoring opportunities in wins over West Ham and Sheffield United and, more notably, during defeats at Liverpool and Manchester City.
Aubameyang has scored 19 goals in 29 appearances for Arsenal since Arteta’s appointment in December but, despite that record, the Spaniard is not shocked to see people find fault in the forward’s game.
“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 also pointed to the calibre of recent opposition has led to Aubameyang having more of a struggle in front of goal.
“If you look at our fixtures we have already played five games out of seven against top, top opposition,” he said.
“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.”
Aubameyang has been largely deployed on the left flank in recent months by Arteta, a move which saw the Gabon international flourish in the big games – scoring a brace in both the FA Cup semi-final win over City and Chelsea in the final.
Arteta moved him into a central position during the recent win over Sheffield United and knows there will always be questions asked of decisions.
“That is always going to happen,” he replied when asked about calls for Aubameyang to play through the middle.
“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.”
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