The striker endured a slow start to 2020-21 but netted twice as Arsenal beat Benfica in the Europa League, and his manager is full of praise
Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was never in “a sad mode” despite his run of games without a goal, although the Arsenal striker was “upset” by his poor form and was always determined to rediscover his scoring touch to help the Gunners.
Aubameyang endured a slow start to the season, netting just three times in the Premier League before Christmas as Arsenal plummeted close to the relegation places, however, he has started to look like his old self and netted a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Leeds earlier this month.
The 31-year-old was on the mark again on Thursday night, scoring twice, including a late winner, as Arsenal beat Benfica 3-2 to reach the Europa League last 16, and Arteta has praised his player for always working hard even when the goals would not come.
What did Arteta say?
Arteta said of Aubameyang: “He is getting into much better positions, his rhythm during the games is much better with and without the ball, his movement.
“The week before when we played Benfica, he had three big chances and I am not worried about him missing them because I know if he gets in those positions, he is going to be scoring consistently so this is what he has to demand of himself. If we have Auba at his best, as a team we obviously have a much better chance to be successful.”
How did a missed penalty help?
Arteta admitted Aubameyang had been getting upset and frustrated with his lack of goals, but that he never lost his desire to rediscover his form. The manager pointed to a penalty missed by the striker in training as an example of his strong will and attitude.
He said: “Sometimes when you go through difficult moments, you can have those difficult moments and get into a sad mode and I think that’s the worst thing you can do, because nobody has to feel sorry for themselves when you’re having those moments.
“What you have to do is get upset, get angry, work harder and approach the situation and face it. Face the challenge in a way that creates more motivation and more hunger to do it and I think in recent weeks I’ve seen that reaction.
“For example, in a training session before we played here he missed a penalty and he was really upset. Instead of going sad, he got upset and I said to the coaching staff that I like that, and that he would be fine tomorrow. When you have that mentality, I think that’s the right way to approach it.”
What next for Arsenal?
Having reached the next round of the Europa League, Arsenal will discover their next opponents when the draw is made on Friday lunchtime.
The Gunners are next in action on Sunday lunchtime when they travel to Leicester in the Premier League.