Arteta unsurprised by Aubameyang criticism following mini-goal drought

Mikel Arteta is not surprised Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was criticised after failing to score for four games in a row, but has vowed to always stand by his Arsenal captain.

After signing a new contract and scoring against Fulham on the opening day of the season, Aubameyang then proceeded to go on a barren run.

The forward had failed to score in four appearances before he found the net on Thursday night against Rapid Vienna to give Arsenal a 2-1 win to kick off their Europa League campaign.

Prior to that, Aubameyang had been coming under fire and he appeared to hint at the criticism earlier this week when he posted an Instagram story saying: “A lot of bla bla. At the end we speak as usual”.

Criticism of Aubameyang has shocked some Arsenal fans, particularly given that he scored all of the team’s goals in the FA Cup semi-finals and final last season.

But asked if he was surprised by it, Arteta replied: “No, because expectations for him are that he has to score a goal every game. 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 around the box, in order to do what he is able to do.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his mini-scoring drought in the 2-1 Europa League win over Rapid Vienna on Thursday (REUTERS)

“Thursday [against Vienna] was a different game to some of the other games we have played against some of the big teams we have played this season.

“If you look at our fixtures, we have already played five games out of seven against top, top opposition.

“It is the same for him or [Sergio] Aguero, who didn’t have a shot on target as well on the weekend [for Manchester City against Arsenal]. It is not an isolation of just our player.

“But Thursday it was promising, I said to him before the game, go out and win us the game, and he did it.”

As well as the criticism around Aubameyang’s performances, there have also been calls for the 31-year-old to play through the middle instead of out wide.

But Arteta said: “That’s always going to happen. The moment he does not score, he needs to play as a 9.

“If you play him as a 9, [people say] ‘why don’t you keep him on the left because he has been so successful on the left?’ It’s going to happen I know.”

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