Mikel Arteta explains that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shows a different side to his game and drives from the front for Arsenal.
Aubameyang has been praised for his form in front of goal, having scored seven goals in all competitions so far this season, including during Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Friday.
However, it was the leadership of the 32-year-old captain that impressed Arteta the most.
“I won’t go for goals, again that’s what Aubameyang conveys on the pitch. I’ve never seen Aubameyang transmit what he does now,” Arteta told the club’s official website.
“Apart from the goals, the celebration when they put the ball in the net, do you see the way he is going, the purpose of pressing the ball, when he takes it, his movement, his connection, how he leads the game, not when he is still, then puts the ball into the net? I prefer Aubameyang this.”
The striker’s performance in front of goal helped Arsenal recover from a difficult start to the season, as the team lost their first three league games without scoring.
That poor level, which has seen Arteta come under criticism, hit an all-time low with a 5-0 win over Manchester City, but has since made way for a six-match unbeaten run.
Arteta believes Aubameyang has matured into a more well-rounded striker, and also retained praise for the performance of fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette.
His comments come days after former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman urged the club to tie Lacazette to a new contract.
“To me, it’s a click. It’s a click. It’s a combination, and that realizes it’s his. [Aubameyang’s] A role that has to go much further,” Arteta added.
“What was good, or very good, two or three years ago, with his role in this team, in this club is not enough.
“He had to take a step forward. I would say the same with Lacazette, look at what he transmits, not just what he does or plays, what he transmits. For me, that is really, really important.”
Arsenal, who face Leeds in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, will be hoping to continue their rise in fortunes – and Arteta hope that Aubameyang and Lacazette will continue to set the standard.
“That’s where I go, and they lead by example and not only there but also on the training ground,” Arteta said.
“Certain things, the role they could have played three years ago in the team, has now changed.
“Humans change themselves every six months, and they have completely new selves, which is incredible, so we are able to adapt very quickly and manipulate and change our minds very quickly as well.
“They are doing it for the good of the club, but certainly for the good of themselves.”