Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appeared to have cemented his place as Arsenal’s main striker following his club-record £56 million move to the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Dortmund in January.
The Gabon international was one of the few positives in the final months of the Arsene Wenger era, immediately showing that he can adapt to English football by scoring 10 goals in 13 Premier League matches between February and May.
This season, however, it has been a different story for the former Saint-Etienne man.
He has started three matches out of three under Unai Emery but his lethal instinct in front of goal has been missing, most notably in the 3-2 loss to Chelsea, and he is yet to find the net.
For 90 percent of the Premier League’s strikers, a three-game run without a goal wouldn’t be a major worry, but this is Aubameyang – someone who has proven again and again over the last four seasons that he should be regarded as one of the world’s most clinical finishers.
In 2013-14, he went on an unprecedented run of 16 matches without scoring a goal for Dortmund. After that, his worst goalless runs for the club lasted just five matches – once in 2014-15 and once in 2017-18 – but he more than made up for that by scoring 24 goals, 36 goals and 42 goals in his final three full seasons in Germany.
The 29-year-old’s overall tally of 10 Premier League goals this calendar year is still impressive, but it’s worth noting that this is already his third three-game goal drought during his time in England. By contrast, he only went three or more matches without a goal on three occasions during his last 121 appearances for Dortmund, compared to 17 appearances for Arsenal.
The Gunners picked up their first three points of 2018-19 on Saturday, winning 3-1 at home against West Ham, but it was Aubameyang’s fellow strikers who stole the headlines, with half-time substitute Alexandre Lacazette changing the tempo of the game in the second half and Danny Welbeck scoring late on after coming off the bench.
Emery mentioned last week that he will turn to 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3 when his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation isn’t working, but he has ruled out starting matches with two out-and-out strikers because he feels his side “need to have control with possession and positioning on the pitch, with more players inside”.
In previous seasons, a player the calibre of Aubameyang would have kept his starting place at Arsenal no matter what. But with a new manager in charge and team-mates waiting for their chance under Emery, the Gunners’ No.14 could do with getting off the mark at Cardiff this weekend.
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