After Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City a narrative quickly emerged that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had had a bad game.
Of this there can be no doubt.
The Gabon striker finished the match with just 20 touches, only 10 completed passes (both the fewest of any Arsenal player who started the match) and zero shots at goal. A poor outing from the Gunners captain.
Alongside this version of events though emerged a separate narrative that Aubameyang is not a big game player for Arsenal. This just simply does not stack up.
“I look at Aubameyang and he is past his best,” said Redknapp. “He has lost his superpowers. I’m seeing now like he is going to get bullied every occasion.
Redknapp is generally a fine pundit, but on this occasion he seems to be guilty of having far too short a memory.
It was only just over six months ago that Aubameyang’s goals against Manchester City and Chelsea dragged Arsenal to glory in an FA Cup victory that has provided the springboard for them to even be playing European football this season.
The problem with Aubameyang is not that he isn’t capable of effecting the biggest games any more, but rather how he is being used in them.
On the 13 occasions when he played as a loan striker in Premier League games against the big six since his move to Arsenal in January 2018 the Gabon forward has just one goal.
That would seem to imply that the 31-year-old has a problem against a higher calibre of opposition.
However, when you look at games against the big six where he has played either on the left or as part of a two up front, his record is a much more impressive five goals in nine Premier League games.
The major takeaway from this is that Aubameyang does not function well as a lone centre forward in games where Arsenal tend to see less of the ball.
These are matches where the Gabon forward is often left isolated up top, and his poor hold up play is exposed as a result.
Against Manchester City, Mikel Arteta could be seen visibly frustrated by the amount of time the ball would bounce back off the Gabon striker as Arsenal looked to him to provide momentary reprieve from the league leaders’ onslaught.
It’s true that Aubameyang could work on his hold up play and probably should, but at the age of 31 it is unlikely that the man with the pace of a leopard will be able to change his spots.
Arteta was shown on Sunday that in games against the bigger teams, the only place where he can use his captain and still hope to get the best out of him is on the left, with one of Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah or even Gabriel Martinelli down the middle.
To be fair to the Arsenal boss he has generally persisted with this tactic having previously described the former Borussia Dortmund man’s “natural” position as being on the left.
Getting the best out of his most dangerous player has been key to the upturn in the Gunners results against the big six since Arteta’s arrival.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special newsletters with any big breaking news too.
And with the January transfer window now open there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
The Spaniard gets something of a pass when it comes to these mistakes as he is a young coach still learning on the job.
If you were to ask him why he chose to play Aubameyang as a lone nine then he would probably be able to put forward a convincing justification for his choice based on how well the Gabonese forward played against Leeds the week before in the same role.
But Sunday was another reminder of why the 31-year-old cannot play that role against sides who will dominate Arsenal. Arteta must now put it down as a lesson and hope to learn from it against similar opponents in the future.