Soccer

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has a reason for not playing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang centrally

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cannot play centrally in Mikel Arteta’s current system because it would not suit the Gunners captain, according to European football expert Julien Laurens. Arsenal fans have been calling for Arteta to move Aubameyang inside after a poor start to the season for the former Borussia Dortmund forward.

Aubameyang has scored just two goals in the first eight Premier League games of the campaign.

The 31-year-old’s shots-per-game stats are down on last season despite playing in a similar role on the left of the attack.

Laurens admits Arteta needs to find a way of getting Aubameyang in front of goal more often.

But he says there is a reason for Arteta preferring Alexandre Lacazette or Eddie Nketiah centrally than Aubameyang.

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“I think it’s just finding a way of getting him more involved in the box,” Laurens told ESPN FC.

“If you look at stats of expected goals, touches in the opposition box, shots of course.

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“If you don’t shoot you can’t score, regardless of your expected goals.

“If he’s not in the position to shoot, if he doesn’t have the ball in the box, he can’t score.

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“Right now he cannot play centrally because he would have to chase the ball and press all the time.

“This is what Arteta is asking his No 9 to do and Lacazette can do that and I don’t think Aubameyang can do it, or it would be crazy to ask that kind of job of Aubameyang. He can’t play in the centre.

“Arteta is not stupid, he would play him centrally if he thought he could and if he thought it was better for the team.

“There’s a reason why he plays on the left and not centrally.”

Last month, Arteta said it was possible that he could play Aubameyang centrally on some occasions.

“Yes that’s a very possible thing,” Arteta said.

“It will depend on the games, it will depend on who he’s surrounded with.

“I think it’s very important to see who is around him and why we’re doing it.

“Not just the fact we’re doing it, why we’re doing that and what we’re going to get by doing these positive things.

“Of course, there’s a very strong possibility to play him as a No 9.

“If you’re asking me about any other player I’d say we have to do some work with his confidence, with Auba I don’t think it’s a case of that.”

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