Arsenal legend Michael Thomas spoke to CaughtOffside about fans pressurising Mikel Arteta to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through the middle.
The Gabon star’s best position is up front, there is no doubt about that. He made a name for himself banging in goals as an out and out striker, and if it was up to him, he would probably choose to start as a number nine every game.
However, Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and now Mikel Arteta have preferred him on the left flank. That has worked incredibly well over the last two years, but our barren run in November and December attracted criticism on that front.
Many Arsenal fans and pundits urged Arteta to move Auba up top. The Gunners boss resisted the temptation for as long as he could, but even he caved hoping that the change would get us back to winning ways.
Sadly, that failed. Aubameyang is now back on the left and Alexandre Lacazette has earned his place up front. That is working now and Arsenal are consistently winning games as a result.
Thomas, a Premier League winning striker himself, has claimed that the calls from fans and pundits regarding Auba were wrong. He believes that the Arsenal skipper is at his best when used on the left-wing, and he is right.
He said: “The team are playing with more confidence which is great. The calls for Aubameyang to play through the middle I thought were wrong.”
“In some games where the lines are high and you can play the ball in behind it supports that argument, but generally he plays better being able to face the goal and off his friend in Lacazette.”
“I think another goal midweek will help him grow the confidence back further.”
Auba up front will not work in Arteta’s system
Arteta’s system requires the number nine to drop deep and hold up play. That allows players around the striker to make runs forward, and that is how we can penetrate into the opposition third.
Aubameyang can certainly do that job but making him drop deep is detrimental to him and the team. The former Dortmund man should be as close to the goal as possible, and Lacazette dropping deep gives the Gabon star the space to run in behind.
The only way Aubameyang up front would work is if another striker starts next to him. That will limit the numbers in midfield which makes things unnecessarily difficult.
Arteta is right to use him on the left and he should continue to do just that.