Mikel Arteta’s decision not to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang centrally has been backed by Julien Laurens, despite the striker uncharacteristically struggling for goals this season.
The international break came at just the right time for Arsenal after suffering three league defeats from four in the run-up.
Arteta has instilled a greater solidity in The Gunners’ backline, though this appears to have been at the expense of their attacking play.
Each of their three recent league defeats came without Arsenal scoring, with Aubameyang’s lack of goals so far starting to raise eyebrows.
The Gabon superstar has been frequently deployed on the left flank – a position he has often had to play in during his tenure in North London.
Many argue he is best suited when positioned at the spearhead of the attack, however, though ESPN FC pundit Laurens has moved to explain why this is simply no longer a viable option.
“I think it’s just finding a way of getting him more involved in the box,” Laurens told ESPN FC (via The Express).
“If you look at stats of expected goals, touches in the opposition box, shots of course.
“When 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.
“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 number nine 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.”
Free agent exit looming
Meanwhile, Arsenal appear on course to lose the services of a once-dependable defender after the player’s father spoke of his anticipated summer exit.
Gabriel Magalhaes’ summer arrival pushed German centre-half Shkodran further down the defensive pecking order.
Currently in the final year of his contract, the 28-year-old will be free to negotiate with other clubs come January.
Now, adding fuel to the exit fires, Mustafi’s father has hinted where his son’s future will lay with his latest comments.