The Gunners boss claims to have no complaints with a striker who has hit 11 goals this season and remains an important part of future plans
Mikel Arteta has shrugged off claims that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is “past his best” and “lost his superpower”, with the Arsenal boss adamant that the Gunners’ club captain still has an important role to play at Emirates Stadium.
Questions have been asked of a Gabonese frontman throughout the 2020-21 campaign, with a 31-year-old tied to a lucrative contract proving to be less prolific than he has been in recent times.
Aubameyang does, however, have 11 goals to his name across all competitions and retains the full support of his manager, regardless of what others might think.
What has been said?
Former Premier League star Jamie Redknapp, who represented the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham in his playing days, told Sky Sports: “Aubameyang is past his best. He’s going to have moments; he’s going to get hat-tricks.
“But when I watch him sometimes, it’s like he’s lost his superpower.
“I saw him run past people when he first came to the Premier League. I saw him run past people at Dortmund. Now I’m seeing a player who looks like he’s going to get bullied.”
How has Arteta responded?
The Gunners manager has told reporters: “I didn’t see those comments. I’ve heard about them.
“I’m here to support every single player and that is what I try to do all the time.
“I try to give them the best possible advice and when they have a difficult moment, stay right behind them and that’s what we try to do always.
The Spaniard added on Aubameyang, who recorded his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Leeds on February 14 but has gone two games without finding the target since then: “I think the best way to talk is always on the pitch.
“Seven days before when he scored the hat-trick and he could have scored four or five against Leeds, he was again the main man.
“He could have scored a hat-trick against Benfica easily with his qualities and it would have been different.
“At the end [of the day] it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net for him and that’s how he gets joy.”
The bigger picture
Aubameyang has been a talismanic presence throughout three years in north London, with 81 goals recorded in 134 appearances.
He has taken on captaincy duties and inspired Arsenal to FA Cup and Community Shield glory in 2020.
Those efforts earned him fresh terms, with his future tied down to 2023, but there have been suggestions this season that a proven performer has allowed his standards to dip on that back of that agreement.
He has found the target on six occasions through nine outings in 2021, though, and will be looking to further silence his critics by firing the Gunners past Benfica on Thursday and into the last-16 of the Europa League.