Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is offering “absolutely nothing” to the Arsenal cause at present, says Paul Merson, with the Gunners accused of looking like a “middle-of-the-table team”.
The north London outfit were expected to kick on in 2020-21 after seeing Mikel Arteta get his feet under the table.
There have been the odd signs of encouragement, but consistency and momentum have been difficult to establish.
Those struggles have affected individuals as well as the collective, with talismanic captain Aubameyang enduring an uncharacteristic dry spell in front of goal.
He has been used on the flanks and down the middle by Arteta this season, but still has just two Premier League goals to his name – and four across all competitions – and Merson believes the Gabonese epitomises the problems being suffered at Emirates Stadium.
The former Arsenal star told Sky Sports: “Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is bringing absolutely nothing to the party at the moment. He played central [against Leeds] and he was ineffective as he was before.
“You watch them and think they are a middle-of-the-table team.
“Looking back at that win at Manchester United, it doesn't look so great now. Do not even start me on Manchester United, it's no big licks going there and getting a result at the moment.”
Merson added: “Where are Arsenal going? People say you can see what Arteta is trying to do, but I'm not sure.
“I watched Leeds and you can see what they are doing. Some of their passing and movement, you could tell they have worked on it, but I do not see that with Arsenal.
“Where are they strong?
“They are not dominant at the back. Thomas Partey is a good player and they have missed him - he should make a difference when he's back - but up front they do not get the ball out wide to the wingers.
“Aubameyang plays up front and does not touch the ball. There is no running off the ball.
“Some people are saying one step forward, one step back. One step back?! That's kind.
“They were a million miles off Leeds last Sunday.
“It did Arsenal a favour when Nicolas Pepe got sent off, Leeds then ran out of ideas because Arsenal had to sit deep.
“Only a couple weeks before, Leicester went to Leeds and put four past them. Leeds let in goals. The teams that beat them are the teams with players who can glide past their defenders; Arsenal don't have that.”
The Gunners eased past Molde 3-0 in their latest Europa League outing and will go back in search of a Premier League spark when they play host to Wolves on Sunday.