Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is enduring a tough start to the season after signing a new contract.
The Gabonese star was on fire at the end of last season and – due to his contractual situation – was linked with a move away from the club.
However, he opted to sign a long-term bumper extension to see out the majority of the rest of his career at The Emirates, putting an end to all the speculation.
Since putting pen to paper, though, he’s struggled to find form and has only scored one goal in nine Premier League appearances – with just one assist to go with it.
Arsenal are in the midst of their worst start to a domestic league season since the Premier League began, and are sat in 14th spot in the table.
Creative midfielder Mesut Ozil has been axed by Mikel Arteta, and Arsenal have struggled to get the ball forward to the front three without him.
But Arsenal hero Alan Smith believes Aubemayang’s problem could be down to Arteta’s tactics, which are usually more defensive-focused than free-flowing attacking.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he explained: “[Aubameyang] is only human. He comes across as a really happy guy, whose confidence would be difficult to knock.
“He has great confidence in his ability. But you can see he has been affected by his overall game. He’s been lacklustre.
“In an effort to try and change things, they’ve put him through the middle. I don’t think he’s necessarily always suited to playing through the middle; when the team is functioning properly, and he’s coming in from the left, he can find space easier from that position.
“But I can see why they’d try through the middle, because they’re trying everything at the moment.
“Some people point to him signing his new bumper contract and his form falling off the edge of a cliff, but I’d be reluctant to say that has been an influence.
“He does strike me as someone who lives for goals, but I’d be surprised if he’s eased off because he’s signed his new contract.
“His form is a symptom of Arsenal’s lack of form going forward. Mikel Arteta had to change the way they played, he had to make them more robust, harder to play against, more solid at the back.
“Wherever Arsenal are on the pitch, they always make sure that should they lose the ball, they are not exposed. They’ve always got that in mind.
“Arteta works quite hard on that in training and, yes, it’s taken away some of that joie de vivre, if you like, that Arsenal have always been associated with going forward.”