London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta has backed Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to prove his recent goal drought was just a blip.
Gabon star Aubameyang had gone four matches without scoring until hitting the winner in Thursday’s 2-1 Europa League victory at Rapid Vienna.
The 31-year-old has been Arsenal’s most dangerous forward since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, but he was still singled out for criticism following his barren spell this term.
His anonymous displays during defeats at Liverpool and Manchester City were especially frustrating for Arsenal fans.
But Aubameyang has scored 19 goals in 29 appearances for Arsenal since Arteta’s appointment in December and the Gunners boss has no doubts his player can cope with the great expectations.
“Expectations for him are that he has to score a goal every game,” Arteta said ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Leicester.
“So this comes with the nature of the big player that he is, what he has done in the past. People expect that from him in the future.
“We are here to help him with that, and we will support him when difficult times come around him.
“He needs to get in more goalscoring opportunities, he needs to get the ball more round the box, in order to do what he is able to do.”
Arteta also claimed the calibre of recent opposition inevitably led to Aubameyang having a tougher time.
“If you look at our fixtures we have already played five games out of seven against top, top opposition,” he said.
“It is the same for him or (Manchester City striker) Sergio Aguero, who didn’t have a shot on target as well on the weekend. It is not an isolation of just our player.”
Aubameyang has been largely deployed on the left flank in recent months by Arteta, a move which saw him flourish in FA Cup wins over Manchester City and Chelsea last season.
Arteta did move him into a central position against Sheffield United this season and he knows there will always be questions about his use of the talisman.
“That is always going to happen. The moment he does not score, he needs to play as a number nine,” Arteta said.
“If you play him as a nine, why don’t you keep him on the left because he has been so successful on the left. Its going to happen, I know.”
100+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $29.99/mo. for fubo Español Package
- Watch Premier League, LaLiga, Liga MX & MLS
- Includes NBC, NBCSN, ESPN, FS1, FS2, TUDN, beIN SPORTS and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch LaLiga, Primeira Liga and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $5.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Serie A, Bundesliga, FA Cup, EFL & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $5.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more