that was supposed to be the moment Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brought his season to life, but instead you wonder where the Arsenal captain goes from here.
For 85 minutes of the game against Everton at Goodison Park, Aubameyang was a spectator as he sat on the bench after being dropped in favor of Alexandre Lacazette.
It was kicked off at the end, 15 minutes after contract rebel Eddie Nketiah got the go-ahead, and with the game tied at 1-1, you wondered if the script was written to be the hero.
In the end, there was a winner in added time, but it was Everton winger Demarai Gray who got it and instead, Aubameyang’s brief cameo was summed up by him as skewing good luck with the last kick of the match.
He has now made six Premier League appearances without a goal, his longest run since joining Arsenal in 2018, and the situation must become a concern for Mikel Arteta.
“I think there will be a problem with Aubameyang after this game,” former Manchester United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports.
“I suspect that if Arteta could probably get money for Aubameyang and he could get someone else, they probably would. And I bet if Aubameyang could move on, he probably would too because maybe it could turn a bit sour.
The situation with Aubameyang, who still has 18 months on his £ 250,000-a-week contract, is by no means at the untenable stage of Mesut Ozil’s final months at Arsenal, but the next few weeks should give us a good idea of the how this journey can end.
Aubameyang is due to head to the Africa Cup of Nations with Gabon in January and, if his playing time remains limited in preparation for that, then the alarm bells will really ring.
Arteta has, in all fairness, been a strong defender of Aubameyang in recent weeks, highlighting his work off the ball. But actions speak louder than words and the fact that the 32-year-old only played five minutes at Goodison Park lends weight to Neville’s concerns.
In Aubameyang’s absence, Arteta opted to let Lacazette lead the line, but he struggled. Goals have always been a problem for Arteta’s teams and the fact that Aubameyang and Lacazette struggle to play up front suggests that the problems may be tactical rather than personnel-related.
Arteta can point out that during this rebuild he didn’t sign a striker and the club would like to do so next summer, but he sanctioned Aubameyang’s new three-year deal in 2020 and he must make the most of the tools at his disposal. available to him.
Lacazette’s woes summed up Arsenal’s night at Everton, with the Gunners lacking pace and penetration going forward. The only time they showed quality, just before half-time, they scored as Kieran Tierney crossed well for Martin Odegaard to finish.
There were some bright spots on Monday night with Tierney looking like himself marauding and Odegaard showing some quality in the final third. The fact that Granit Xhaka, who played 90 minutes, is back a month earlier after injury is also a bonus.
They were, however, rare bright sparks on an otherwise humid evening and while Arsenal had over 60% of the possession they did little and Everton were worthy winners. The fact that Rafael Benitez’s side, who before Wednesday night had not won in eight Premier League games, scored two more goals for offside, while VAR twice turned down Richarlison, did that underline it.
They were drops for Arsenal but they didn’t take the warnings as Richarlison finally scored his goal 10 minutes before the end when he brought home Gray’s rebounded effort off the bar. Everton finished their comeback after that and suddenly Arsenal, not the hosts, looked like the problem team.
Aubameyang’s woes are one of them, but add the fact that club record signing Nicolas Pepe hasn’t kicked off since October and star midfielder Thomas Partey has rated his recent performances as four out of 10. in an interview before that game, and it’s easier to see why traveling Arsenal fans were concerned about what they were seeing.
Those heading to the Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s visit to Southampton are hoping for much better.