Former Gunners defender Nigel Winterburn feels the club captain at Emirates Stadium is more productive on the left than he is centrally
Arsenal need to be switching Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back into a left-sided attacking role, says Nigel Winterburn, with the Gunners captain still struggling for end product when used as a central striker.
The Gabonese forward, who has been a talismanic figure across his time at Emirates Stadium, has scored just twice in his last 10 Premier League appearances.
Many of those, particularly in the current campaign, have come when operating down the middle and Winterburn believes the time has come for Mikel Arteta to consider another tactical tweak.
What has been said?
Former Arsenal defender Winterburn, speaking in association with Paddy Power, told Goal when asked if positional tinkering is required in north London: “Asking if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should play on the left wing once again is a great question. If you ask Arsenal fans, when he doesn’t play up top, they ask why because he’s our main goalscorer.
“I’ve said it all along, I feel he gets more freedom and space on the left wing, but if you’re playing on the left, you’re having to do a lot more defensively.
“His issues are more a case of the type of service he wants when playing centre-forward. He isn’t going to face up to the play, link it up and then spin while looking for a one-two with another player.
“His strength is on the back shoulder of defenders, and creative players making intricate five-yard passes for him to run onto. That’s how I see him scoring his goals.
“Aubameyang is a completely different type of centre-forward to Alexandre Lacazette. When Lacazette plays, sometimes Aubameyang moves to the left-hand side, then cuts inside and we’ve seen him score some great goals doing that.
“If Aubameyang doesn’t score in the upcoming fixtures, Mikel Arteta might bring Lacazette back in and put Aubameyang back out wide. But, what does Arteta then do with Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe or Emile Smith Rowe? It’s a nice problem for Arsenal to have.”
Is Aubameyang’s form a concern?
The man donning the armband for Arsenal does still boast an impressive record of 89 goals for the club through 153 appearances.
He has, however, struggled for consistency since signing a lucrative new contract in 2020 and needs to rediscover a spark if he is to inspire the Gunners to bigger and better things after a testing time for all concerned.
Winterburn added on the form of a proven frontman ahead of a derby date with arch-rivals Tottenham on Sunday: “It’s always concerning for a team when their main centre-forward isn’t scoring regularly.
“The conundrum with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was his issues last season with illness, and then again this season with him contracting Covid. No-one can be certain how long he will take to recover.
“However, putting the previous issues aside, his form is a concern. We want the Aubameyang of two seasons ago, who was scoring plenty.
“On the flipside, people must look at his outright form, and the reasons why he isn’t scoring as many goals. Are Arsenal still creating the same number of chances that give him the opportunities to score?
“In my opinion, he isn’t in as good form as he was a few years ago, and Arsenal aren’t creating the same chances consistently for him.”