Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang endured a lean finish to last season, scoring just once in his last 11 games for the Gunners, but has turned it around this term
Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a lightbulb moment which has made the Arsenal captain “click” into gear.
Aubameyang endured a lean finish to last season, scoring just once in his last 11 games for the Gunners, but seven goals in nine appearances to date this term have restored a spring to his step.
And although the Gabon striker is unlikely to start Tuesday’s Carabao Cup fourth round date with Leeds at the Emirates, manager Arteta has been heartened by his skipper adding all-round dynamism to his goal threat.
He said: “I wouldn’t just go to the goals, it is what Auba is transmitting on the pitch. I have never seen Auba transmit what he is doing now – it is a click.
“Apart from the goals, the celebration when they put the ball in the net, do you see the way he runs, the purpose he has to press the ball and when he takes it his movement, his link, how is leading the game?
“That is when he is changing the rest, not when he is static and then he puts the ball in the net. I prefer this Auba.”
Arteta is in charge of the Premier League’s most youthful squad, and he is expected to give several youngsters a gallop tonight – despite the League Cup being one of only two trophies Arsenal can realistically win this season.
But he senses the Gunners have responded to senior citizen Aubameyang, 32, and fellow striker Alex Lacazette stepping up to show leadership after a horrid start of three consecutive defeats.
He said: “You have a trophy to win in four games, so you know exactly what you have to do. It is closer than any other, so we have to go and try to get the challenge done.
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“For me, with Auba it is a click. It is a combination that realising that his role has to go well beyond that.
“What was good, or very good, two or three years ago, with his role in this team, at this club, it is not enough. He had to take a step forward.
“I would say the same with Laca. Look what he is transmitting, not just doing or playing, what he is transmitting. For me that is really, really important.
“They lead by example and not only there but as well at the training ground. Certain things, a role they could have had three years ago in the squad, now it has changed.
“It’s incredible that we are the youngest team in this league and many of the experiences they are going through, they have never experienced before.
“So the more positive they are, the more confidence that will build. When a player is more confident, he fulfils his potential much quicker and much better and it only generates a better atmosphere. Sometimes when you are in a good mood, you make better decisions.”
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who has lost the No.1 jersey to £24 million signing Aaron Ramsdale in the Premier League, will be handed his first start in five weeks.