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Arteta backs Aubameyang to fire in North London Derby as Winterburn calls for Arsenal forward to change position

14:30 BST 24/09/2021
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal 2020-21
The Gunners manager feels his striker has finally found form, while the former defender feels the club captain is more productive on the left

Mikel Arteta has backed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to fire on all cylinders in Sunday's north London derby against Tottenham, after he was dramatically dropped for the fixture last season.

Aubameyang was punished for lateness last season by being left as an unused substitute for the home game against Spurs last season, which Arsenal went on to win 2-1.

Arteta feels his captain can put that incident, and his more recent run without scoring, behind him and feels Aubameyang is in prime form to make an impact against their local rivals.

What did Arteta say?

Speaking at his press conference on Friday, Arteta said of dropping Aubameyange last season: "I did that on the day and now I think Auba is in a different position. It doesn't mean he was in a bad position at the time, it was just an incident that we as a team had some ways of living together – that wasn't the case (from him at that time) and so we made a decision.

"Now he has been in really good form, I think the way he played at Burnley even though he didn't score a goal, was extraordinary in the way he played for the team so we are expecting him to keep doing the same.

"He has generated chances but we have to generate more, we have to put him through on more occasions when we know how it is going to end up and he is in good form.

"You need a special moment and details a lot of the time decide these types of fixtures. Big players do it normally, when they step in and are able to do it for the team normally the outcome becomes really positive."

Where should Aubameyang play?

Arsenal need to be switching ubameyang 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 Arteta to consider another tactical tweak.

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."

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