Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has found it hard to score since signing his new contract at Arsenal. Perhaps a return of Ainsley Maitland-Niles could help him rediscover his goalscoring form. Aubmeyang is yet to score from open play since netting on opening day against Fulham.
This season Arteta has used the former Dortmund forward across the front line. At the start of the season, he played on the left and sometimes on the right. Then against Leeds United, he played through the middle. Unfortunately, he can’t find the back of the net regardless of his position.
Another thing to consider is the number of changes that have been created for him. He has shown in the past he can be a clinical finisher. But so far this season he only has 13 shots on targets in nine Premier League games. Out of the 13, four came against Fulham on an opening day.
Not only this his fellow forwards have hardly been of any help. Lacazzate, Pepe and Willian haven’t helped him in the goalscoring burden. It will surely a worrying stat for Mikel Arteta, given the Gunners are known for playing attacking football.
The Ainsley Maitland-Niles role
This season, Maitland Niles has only started in two league games. One was against the cottagers when Arsenal won 3-0 and Aubemyang scored. Though on first look it hardly looks like a small coincidence or a meaningless stat. However, a deeper analysis shows that he could be missing a link to Aubameyang’s goals.
In the previous season, the Gunners won the FA Cup by beating Manchester City and Chelsea. In both of these games, Maitland Niles started the game as a left wing-back. Also, Aubmeyang scored in both of these games. He scored the only goal against the Citizens and a brace against London rivals Chelsea.
The Englishman’s good performances also earned him a call to Gareth Southgate’s national team squad. Though he did have a direct hand in any of the goals scored by Aubmeyang he did have a certain influence. With his presence on the left, it allowed more space for the Gabon international.
Maitland Niles is naturally right-footed, thus he would often drift inside, instead of making a run to the outside. The same idea was used against Liverpool in the Community Shield as well. Aubameyang scored identical goals in all these games. He drifted out and curled his shot at the goalkeeper.
An Alternative Plan for Arsenal
Kieran Tierney can also be used with a similar effect. The Scottish can run down the left, Auba can pass the pall to him to swing in a cross. He can also use him as a decoy to distract defenders and in the momentary lapse, he can cut inside and take a shot.
The important thing for Arteta is to get Aubameyang’s confidence back. He is the main source of goals for them. If he is unable to score goals, then the Gunners are in big trouble.
Another thing to consider here is the lack of good chances. Mikel Arteta is yet to truly show that his team can play consistent attacking football. They have shown flashes but that is not good enough. The Spaniard has mainly relied upon the park the bus tactics.
Historically, the Gunners have always played expansive attacking football. Currently, they are not creating enough chances as well. Arteta needs his team to work on that aspect as well. They need to be a bit braver in possession, Dani Ceballos can also be the creative force that has been missing in this Arsenal team.