Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a mixed start to his Arsenal career.
Much was expected of the Gabonese international, who joined in a £56 million move from Borussia Dortmund in January with a reputation as one of the best strikers in the Bundesliga.
A return of three goals does not necessarily indicate a bad opening six games – and his performances in comfortable home wins over Everton and Watford offers room for encouragement.
However, he has also missed presentable chances at important stages of the two 3-0 defeats to Manchester City and there are question marks about his adaptability.
Aubameyang is yet to have a shot from outside the box and has lost 17 of his 22 aerial duals (WhoScored). While he normally excels at rounding off moves, he so far has not contributed as much as he might do when Arsenal’s attacks are at a more embryonic stage.
The forward has perhaps suffered from a shortage of competitive game time. His purple patches in Germany came when he played lots of matches in short periods of time, which was perhaps conducive to building confidence.
In the six weeks that followed his move to Arsenal, he has played only six games, all of which have been domestic fixtures. He has been unable to participate in the Gunners’ Europa League campaign due to UEFA’s rule that has made him cup-tied for the Gunners.
Aubameyang had made six appearances for Dortmund in the Champions League group stages. Although that was a different competition, BVB finished third in Group H behind Tottenham and Real Madrid, meaning that they are now in the Europa League, thus the Nice academy graduate can’t play in that competition.
Whether UEFA’s rules are fair is debateable. Speaking recently, Aubameyang said, “I am really frustrated because the rules are a bit… I don’t know how to say in English but I am disappointed because I can’t help my team,”
Thankfully, they coped well enough at AC Milan last time out. Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey helped Arsenal defeat the Italian giants 2-0 at the San Siro, a victory that was not expected given the contrasting form of both teams.
Further Europa League success perhaps puts Pierre in an awkward position. Victory in that competition is the only way for the Londoners to qualify for the Champions League, where a player of his quality – and more importantly a club the size of Arsenal – belongs. On the other hand though, there is potential for him to feel excluded from what could be the most satisfying part of the club’s season.
While Aubameyang has shown flashes of what he can do in a red shirt thus far, he may be yet to fully settle.