African Football HQ: Why is Aubameyang playing so poorly?

Aubameyang AFHQ
It’s a North London Derby special on the podcast this week

The blockbuster fixture in the Premier League this weekend is the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, as these two old rivals, now going in very different directions, collide.

While Spurs are on a nine-game undefeated streak heading into this one, having taken four points from Manchester City and Chelsea in their last two matches, the Gunners are looking increasingly short of ideas and inspiration under Mikel Arteta.

The early optimism under the Spanish coach has given way to a concerning realisation that he may not have all the answers after all.

He hasn’t been helped—certainly—by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s startling drop in form, and this is one of the key issues on the African Football HQ agenda this week.

After netting against Liverpool in the Community Shield, and then against Fulham on the opening day of the season, Aubameyang has only scored once in his next nine league games—the penalty against Manchester United.

For a player who has netted 44 league goals across his last two campaigns, failing to score from open play in nine Premier League outings is a risible return, and demands major scrutiny…particularly as Arsenal crumble around him.

For Malek Shafei, the return to the squad of No. 10 Mesut Ozil—currently ostracised by Arteta—could be a solution to solve Auba’s goalscoring woes.

However, for Ed Dove, Arteta was right to sideline the problematic playmaker, who, after all, only contributed two assists in 24 league outings for the Londoners last term.

Thierry Henry, among others, has praised Arteta’s bold approach, and it was clear that if he was going to change the team’s ethos and get them to buy into his methods, he couldn’t have the Germany international—or the likes of Matteo Guendouzi—diluting the focus of the camp.

Instead, Aubameyang’s malaise is a consequence of a side where too many elements that should be critical—not least Nicolas Pepe—are flattering to deceive right now.

Will the Gunners—and Auba—come good in time for derby day, or will Spurs—currently enjoying their best start to a season since 1985 heap further woe on Arteta’s beleaguered boys?