Time for Aubameyang through the middle? Some numbers…

by .

Damn, waiting two weeks for football after getting spanked by Villa is a very long time. I hope Arteta is sitting in a cupboard for the first week thinking about what he did, and more importantly, what he plans to do when we come out the backend of this.

The good news is that after the break, there are three big games where we can show to league what we’re made of… Leeds, Wolves, then Spurs. Put 9 points on the board there and we go from ‘OH MY GOD IS THIS IT?!’ to ‘OK MAYBE LIFE MIGHT BE OK.’

That’ll be three very different challenges. Leeds will spray attack-minded football our way, quite simply, they have no other way to play. Wolves will be tough, they tried to bully us last time and we beat them the way we caught a lot of good sides out early on under Arteta. Then it’s Spurs. Everyone is loving Jose now. He has three of the best forwards in the league at the moment, that, combined with a solid base has Spurs looking like they might do something this year if he can get more performances out of the team. It would be huge to down him.

All of that is a long way off. If you were on death row, you’d pray that your last two weeks were during an international break… it’d be the longest two weeks ever.

The brief to Arteta is very simple, he has to figure a way of making us better going forward. He’s never been under this much pressure as a young manager. Some wither and die, the best rise to the occasion and find a way to succeed. The thing ringing in my head is Steve Round saying the Moyes project was going places but they didn’t win enough games to justify it. That’ll be Arteta if he’s not careful. Points is the best stat for any manager.

Arteta’s struggle is he doesn’t have a City squad to call on. His attacking options can’t do what they could do at City. His coaching projects have gone from making £50m Raheem Sterling world-class, to turning Reiss Nelson into a Premier League player. He knew the challenges when he took over. He cannot hide behind ‘it’s not possible’ because currently, we’re near bottom for shots in the second half across 92 clubs in English football. It’s a stupid stat, but that’s the way football fans work, and the reality is, we don’t need stats to see that this current side has no ambition in the final third.

What Arteta might need to learn is that when you manage a non-elite spender, imperfect attacking options are better than total caution.

He might have to learn to trust people he doesn’t believe in for a period of time, because sometimes, these people surprise you.

He has to innovate on something that isn’t really working this season.

Currently, we have one of the best sharpshooters out on the wing and he’s not getting the ball or being served chances. The purpose of the move out there was to give him more space to shoot. I don’t care what the stats showed last year, the core narrative of this season is BIG chances keep falling to the guy in the middle, and that guy is not converting.

Watch this video.

Here are the numbers on those goals that I did really quickly.

31 goals scored:

  • Inside 6 yards: 14 (45.16%)
  • Inside the Box: 15 (48.39%)
  • Penalties: 2 (6.45%)

So what can we draw from this sort of data?

Well, the eye test told me a few things. Auba is at his best when he’s fox-in-the-boxing. He has a sixth sense for knowing where he needs to be. It’s a bit of a myth that he relies on his pace for goals… he relies on instincts and fast thinking.

That particular Dortmund team has a few things our side doesn’t really have. Namely, a Dembele. His electric pace and final delivery is currently unmatched in this Arsenal team based on form. That said, if there’s a player that ‘could’ be him, it’s Nicolas Pepe. They both have electric pace, they can both ghost players, and let’s be honest… final ball is a form and coaching thing. Currently, we don’t get our wide players on the ball high enough up the pitch for this sort of player, and we don’t move the ball fast enough.

You could also argue that Gabriel M and Reiss could be trained to be more direct. They both have the pace for it.

The biggest miss we have compared too that Dortmund team is final ball merchants. Dortmund had Kagawa, Gotze, and Guerreiro, and Dembele. But more specifically, they have players that can do things through the middle of park. We don’t have that, but right now, we don’t have players taking chances from wide positions either.

My rough conclusion is that the best way to temporarily deal with a creativity problem is:

1) Put your best finisher through the middle. If Auba had played centrally all this season, we’d have more points, and we’d have taken the first goal in a lot of big games.

2) Take a chance on players that aren’t hitting the mark. If Pepe is whining that he wants to play in the media, give him a go. Be explicit about what you want from him. Pump his confidence in the media. Tell him to be more like Dembele 4 years ago. Do whatever it takes to max out the skills he’s not bubbling up… stop focusing all the attention down the left. Bring some balance by making your focal point involved where he’s most likely to score goals. Also, maybe give Reiss or Willock a go. Willock centrally is the only player that might be able unlock us centrally. Reiss is direct and his career is on the line. Try is, couldn’t be worse than what we’re seeing now.

Ok, done.

What do YOU think?

P.S. Carrying on from yesterday’s post, namely, keeping players on that should be sold… I cannot believe we turned down a good bid for Lacazette from Roma. Shocking stuff. The biggest learning for Arteta in 2020 is that he needs to be more ruthless. No more old players that can’t deliver. Move them on. Go with elite young players with high ceilings.

440 Responses to “Time for Aubameyang through the middle? Some numbers…”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Ishola70

    “there won’t be.What if he succeeds, will you bow down to my infinite wisdom?”

    Well I am on about this season. And it’s not looking that promising atm.

    But the world will be his oyster thereafter no doubt.

    It will be a Teets world.

  2. Marc


    “What if he succeeds” followed by ” Orwill you say… ‘well, winning the league doesn’t mean much, Ranieri did it’” at least sets the definition of what success is.

    All we need now is a time scale – have a feeling a new verse for this classic is being written

  3. Captain Tierney

    Arsenal under Arteta in the Premier league:

    With Pepe starting: 7 wins in 13 games. 3D, 3L.
    Points per game: 1.84 (70 point season)

    Without Pepe starting: 6 wins in 15 games. 3D, 6L.
    Points per game: 1.4 (53 point season)

  4. Nelson


    I agree that the compact schedule has something to do with it. But the club should be aware of it. If it is injury during a match, you can’t prevent it. But injury during training, that should be stopped.

  5. Marc


    If those stats are correct (I’m sure they are) then that asks another question – what the fuck was Arteta doing throwing £200k per week at Willian when he should have been looking to improve Pepe and scale even greater heights?

  6. Receding Hairline

    Valentin i agree with pretty much everything you wrote up there.

    We need to see that Arteta has more than one trick up his sleeve, we can’t keep being reminded how smart he is, it needs reminding because we aren’t seeing it in play.

  7. Champagne charlie

    It isn’t a balanced view when every defeat is Arteta’s fault, but every good win is thanks to some external intervention (like Ole). That’s clear bias.

    Either Arteta is given all, or none..

  8. Pedro

    Marc, not gonna lie, we did that at the start to make it looks like the party was happening.

    I don’t need to do it anymore, Bamford is everyone.

  9. Bertfish

    I still cannot get over the fact we gave Willian a 3 YEAR DEAL on reportedly 200k a week & this is post the Ozil contract debacle. It really rankles with me like its my own money that has been spunked here..

    I thought the Kronks had installled “their man” to stop all this bollox from going on!

  10. Valentin


    Before lockdown that defensive approach worked because it still had elements of attack. Since lockdown, Arteta has slightly tweaked his tactics and in doing so just killed our offense.

    Also by his long passes Xhaka was still injecting variability and speed into the play. Now that Luiz is out, we literally have no vertical passes and no long passes either. We are pedestrian and predictable, not a good combination to destabilise the opposition defense and score.

    Elneny popped with two vertical passes and then presto we scored, so the issues is not that Pepe, Bellerin, Saka and Aubameyang don’t make runs because they do. They are just deliberately ignored in favour of the safe lateral passes.

  11. Marc


    Also who yanked the deal? If it was just plain turned down then that’s even more embarrassing – the centre back version of Xhaka thinks he’s too good for us.

  12. Captain Tierney


    First of all Willian is on 100k a week. Its 200 or 220 k a week only after triggering all the performance related clauses like goals, assists, trophies, etc and also adding and discounting the sign on fee. And I’m sure he isn’t triggering any performance related clauses after putting in such hapless performances.

    Secondly, Pepe is an enigma. A bit like Alexis. They both give the ball away many times. Sure Sanchez was a much more refined player and definitely world class but that didn’t stop him from constantly giving away the ball trying absurd things.
    Pepe tho not world class has a great left foot. His final third ability is probably one of if not the best at Arsenal football club.
    With what Arteta has done with Sterling and Sane I had hoped (still do ) Arteta will be able to bring out the best in Pepe.

    He needs to be played closer to the goal and he has shown many times in the Arsenal Red that when he operates closer to the goal he can cause problems for any side. Arteta’s use of him as touchline winger is hindering his true potential.
    + our attack needs balancing anyway, its too biased to the left side. I just hope Arteta can bring out Pepe’s true potential before its too late.

  13. Graham62


    I’m afraid once Pedro gets his teeth into something, he finds it very difficult to let go.

    I’m not convinced though. There are just too many things happening that don’t make sense.

    Offering Mustafi a new contract was one of these things.

    Senseless imo.

  14. Danny+S

    Even if we don’t win the next 3 games, if Arteta mixes it up a bit and tries different formulas it won’t be so bad.

    If he sticks rigidly to his guns and carries on status quo and doesn’t win them, then there are issues.

  15. Pedro

    Danny, agree.

    I’d be very surprised if there’s no change.

    They have that Swedish kid in first-team training. What a big guy he is.

  16. Valentin

    Pepe is not a young upcoming kid anymore. People keep talking about his immense potential on the back of some YouTube highlights.
    He is a one truck pony. He is now facing with the following options:

    1) concentrate on his one trick. Make it so good and so quick that opponents know what’s coming but still can’t stop. Robben had one move but his move was still lethal against 95% of the defenders. That means more aggression and better use of his upper body strength. Grealish had Bellerin bouncing off him, Pepe in the same situation would be on the floor asking for a foul to the referee.

    2) become a more rounded player. Unfortunately his spacial awareness does not seem to be great. Yes he never receive the ball in the right place, but he also does not seem to be able to build any link with his teammates. He need a more pro-active approach and ask Bellerin and Partey to have extra sessions together, the same way, Laca and Auba spend an extra 20 minutes training their penalty and freekick together.

    If he does not and Arteta does not change system, he will never be more than an impact sub for Arsenal.

  17. Tom

    The only thing worse than Ozil’s last season’s stats is the look of his newly launched clothing line………….apparently designed by a color blind person.

  18. Gentlebris

    ‘ I cannot believe we turned down a good bid for Lacazette from Roma.’

    That is more believable than bringing in an expired Willian to get an obvious retirement package off us while all his lifeworks were for Chelsea.

  19. Gentlebris

    Then see my Jose walking rocking!

    The geniuses here swore he was finished.

    They voted an apprentice over 3 prem league title and 2 CLs.

    I can’t even laugh about it.

  20. Marc

    Freddie / Pedro

    “Saliba is pretty huge, just saying.Think that’s where Marc was heading anyway.”

    Pretty much – I mean Arteta wouldn’t include Saliba in the group stage of the EL. I’ve run out of lines on how bad those teams are. To throw a 17 year old striker into the PL? To say it’s un Arteta like would be a major understatement – it’s unlike 99% of managers.

  21. Pedro

    Marc, he’s not robust as a player right now, which might be due to his size, or growing too fast.

    That second bit is a guess.

  22. Nelson


    Arteta did say recently that he regreted not including Saliba in the group stage of the EL The reason is Mari was expected to be healthy by now. There was an unexpected setback. He trusts Mari more than Saliba.

  23. Marc


    That shouldn’t have been in his thinking – he should have been thinking long term and with the group we’ve got a chance to get Saliba some game time with Arsenal – come Jan when you can modify the squad you could always drop him out and send him on loan for 6 months if it wasn’t working.

    Just think it’s another sign of Arteta’s being over cautious.

  24. Marc

    Just demonstrates Southgate is a halfwit but he could be doing us a massive favour – might find someone daft enough to put in a bigger bid come Jan.

  25. Pedro

    Danny, he’s actually not.

    I knew a pro footballer that grew too fast when he was young and shin splints go him in the end.

  26. Graham62


    I have my moments.

    You say three wins will change my thinking. On the flip side, what if we struggle in these three games, will you keep spinning the “Arteta is sauce” rhetoric?

    I reacted to Wenger in 2008-09. Not in 2015. That’s me.
    I reacted to Emery when we got blitzed 2-2 at Watford.
    I reacted to Arteta after the Martinez/ Leno fiasco.

    Oh yeh, I also made my mind up on Gazidis from day one.

    Spotting problems is quite easy.

    Just to be clear, being “reactionary” has served me well.

    I found my wife of 32 years by being reactionary.

  27. Marc


    We’ve got a young highly rated player who was sort after by several clubs that we paid a decent chunk of cash for – we stuck him out on loan last season for reasons that fans accepted.

    We’ve now got him back, we didn’t send him on loan, didn’t include him in the EL squad and haven’t used him in the League Cup matches we’ve had so far.

    His legend is always going to get hyped when he’s out of sight and not being used when we’re not hardly blowing the doors off.

  28. Marko

    he’s not played first team football for like 7 months?

    It sounds bad when you say it like that but the french league finished early, covid and a novice manager making a pigs ear of everything makes it seem less bad

  29. Gentlebris

    ‘I found my wife of 32 years by being reactionary.’

    I heard it sung by a Nightingale that reactional marriages are the best…

    Lucky Graham!

  30. Gentlebris

    Leeds will absolutely love us!

    You can buy it if you don’t mind making money off Arsenal’s hire of an apprentice.

  31. Gentlebris

    Of all the great personalities Arsenal have produced, is it not spectacular that two of our most average former players are the ones running the club?

  32. Gentlebris

    Ozil has been done for really a bit now…but to think Mikel was the guy who called out Ozil?

    Ozil’s little finger did more for this club than Mikel.

  33. salparadisenyc


    Arseblog touched on it today.

    Everything about Saliba is weird, how we bought then loaned back considering amount paid and our needs at time, not letting him do the coup de france, not in either league or europa squad this season and not loaned out elsewhere.

  34. Radio Raheem

    On the sly Scotland have stopped being complete shite at football. They’re currently on the verge of qualifying for the Euros knocking Serbia out in the playoffs.

  35. Gentlebris

    Dude thinks coaching is lyrical 😂😂😂😂.

    Mikel in that chair is like a cheerleader preparing a class for exam.

    Stuffs like that always lead to embarrassments.

  36. Nelson

    I like this England attack. Grealish is all over the place, midfield, left inside forward and #10 position. Saka stays on the left to give the width while Dominic Calvert-Lewin stays up top to keep their 2 CB’s busy.

    England also plays 3 4 3. But Dominic Calvert-Lewin stays high up. Grealish has a free roll.

  37. Daniel Altos

    Big boy Dom scores the winner for Hungary.This guy only scores bangers. I don’t care if some people here think he isn’t what we need we should be pushing the boat for him because at the euros he will definitely attract alot of buyers

  38. Tom

    Some midwestern states are world’s epicenter , and November on track to become worst month during Covid …………..or as Trump would say “we’ve rounded the corner”.

  39. Tom

    All the Covid media coverage and new restrictions considered by state and local municipalities……………..don’t they realize Trump lost the election already so no point hurting his chances by stifling the economy?

  40. Pedro

    Dani, only that he’s moved to a new country where he can’t speak the language, he was shaken by his family stuff, and the club don’t think he’s physically ready for the Premier League.

    They are protecting him. Not punishing him.

  41. Champagne charlie

    Best thing Mesut Ozil has done in months is to weigh in on the Auba and Kroos beef to mug off the blonde bellend.

    I mean who the fuck cares enough to talk shit about a another player in the media over something like a celebration? Talk about heightened self-importance.

  42. China1

    Dom Slobbi was strongly linked with a move to RB Leipzig a couple of days ago. If arsenal genuinely want him
    I think we should be trying to get some pre transfer window contract in place if possible because if we Don’t and he goes to fucking Leipzig it would be not only a huge miss but embarrassing as fuck. They are a good team and all but arsenal must not be losing out to a club that small in transfers

  43. China1

    I really doubt physicality is Salibas problem

    He was in the first team in the French league for like two seasons already. As someone who grew too fast and had shocking growing pains in my knees and back as a kid (and the scars to prove it!) I can tell you those issues happen as your growing and ease off as you slow down and stop. I really doubt Saliba was solid for the last two seasons then started growing fast as hell again. He’s probably barely grown at all in the last 2 years if anything – he ain’t 14 years old…

  44. China1

    That he hasn’t played for ages because of the French league getting cancelled and losing his mum are legitimate issues for him

    Not being physical enough to cope? He’s like 6’4 with two years of top flight football in a decent league. He’s also not scrawny in the slightest.

    If he goes to ground too easily it’s probably a choice, same as Guen always inviting challenges then going to ground to win free kicks. If arteta doesn’t want to see that it can be very easily coached out of him.

    I’m not saying he should be a starter, just that these physicality comments don’t add up in the slightest.

  45. China1

    Also I can assure you if he was really suffering with growing pains and the sort he would probably not be playing at all, even for the youth team, let alone in the first team of a top division French teaM

    When I had growing pains my knees felt like they couldn’t handle my weight and like they could buckle under me when running. It was basically impossible to sprint at a reasonable speed and even kicking a ball felt hopeless for those 18 months or so. Absolutely debilitating to my footballing.

    Trust me Saliba is not being crippled by growing pains.

  46. Danny+S

    So reading the news and thinking this morning, we have turned down a ‘substantial offfer’ for Laca a decent offer for AMN, persuaded Xhaka to stay and offered Mustafi a new contract….

    23m fir Xhaka, 20m for AMN and maybe 25m for Laca.

    We didn’t need to replace AMN so that’s 68m to replace Xhaka and Laca, but it looks like Arteta and Edu didn’t have a thing lined up and instead prefer to hoard average talent.

    Doesn’t bode well.

  47. Pierre

    “Best thing Mesut Ozil has done in months is to weigh in on the Auba and Kroos beef to mug off the blonde bellend.”

    Very perceptive charlie.
    You do realise that your comment is a condemnation of Arteta’s poor man management skills and poor decision making.

    What we have is millions of Arsenal supporters worldwide bemoaning our lack of creativity , whilst STILL our most creative player has not had one minute of football since March..

    And being paid 350 grand a week

    It could only happen at a supposedly cash strapped Arsenal.

  48. Pierre

    “.Trust me Saliba is not being crippled by growing pains”

    Growing pains is just another excuse to cover up very poor decision making by Arteta.

    I said back in August or thereabouts before the squads were announced ( and was roundly criticised for it on Le Grove) that Arteta doesn’t fancy Saliba as he has flaws in his game.. .

    What we have had is a long line of excuses from many on Le Grove as to why Saliba was left out of the Europa squad , plus the usual bullshit from Arteta .

    Again, Arteta should have told the truth instead of hiding behind bullshit excuses like

    Family problems
    Not enough games last year.
    He thought Mari would be back.
    Growing pains ( did he say that?)

  49. Marc Son

    “Graham, you are very reactionary. Win the next three games and you’ll probably not be concerned.”
    Pedro, Was this not you under emery?

    I think Saliba is good enough for arsenal first team. The club has defender budget that is bloated because we didn’t ship out mustafi and papa. We are not playing him to avoid paying bonus to St. Etienne and soften the defender budget situation.

  50. China1

    Pierre I don’t think arteta said growing pains, I think it was an excuse theorized about by the fans

    But I think losing his mum is a more than adequate excuse for him having difficulties. The other ones I don’t buy at all.

    At the end of the day, his old club said they asked to take him back on loan this summer and that it was arsenal who agreed but fucked up the paperwork. I suspect a significant part of this situation is just someone at arsenal (not sure who) screwing up the admin for his loan and that’s why we get this bizarre situation of him being out of the squad.

  51. China1

    I also think Arteta doesn’t fancy Martinelli, as as soon as he started winning all those plaudits arteta started talking about keeping his feet on the ground and began reducing his playing time. If Martinelli was 100% fit and raring to go tomorrow I still think he’d just be a squad player for late in game rotation

  52. Daniel Altos

    But I think losing his mum is a more than adequate excuse for him having difficulties. The other ones I don’t buy at

    @China So losing out on his mum meant he was so devasted to play for Arsenal but can handle playing in the academy?Or better still why were we actively looking for a club to loan him out to?So if he was playing on loan that would reduce the pain of his losing his mum?Let’s just call it what it is,a massive screw up by Arsenal

  53. China1

    I just wanna see Nelson given a bit more time as he was playing well when arteta first came in and it looked like he was happy with what he brought to the table

    Now he’s closer to the youth team than the starting 11 lol. Not sure what happened

  54. China1

    Daniel I’m not making excuses for him/them. I’m just saying if hes looked off the pace in training because his head has been elsewhere due to his mum then I’d totally get that and understand why the club would think he’s not gonna be much use to us in the coming months and loan him out to a team with lower expectations.

    I’m not saying that’s the case but I’d understand if it is.

    As it happens I think Pierre is right that for whatever reason Arteta hasn’t taken to him and wanted him loaned out (whether because of the above scenario or otherwise) but arsenal fucked up the paperwork and made a complete mess of it all, leaving us with this dumb situation

  55. Freddie Ljungberg

    Daniel Altos

    I’m guessing you have to be 100% mentally to play on the big stage in the PL, not nearly as much pressure in the u23s. We were going to loan him back to his boyhood club so he could be close to family and friends but it fell through.

    Should have still included him in the EL squad imo.

    All this he’s too big bollocks is just that, he was bullying strikers in Ligue 1, he’s not going to have any problem with the physicality of the Prem.

  56. Graham62


    I agree on your take on how badly run our club is.

    Yes, millions of us a bemoaning the lack of creativity but let’s also not forget that Ozil is not the answer.

    That ship sailed long ago.

  57. Pedro

    Freddie, no one is saying he’s too strong, they are just saying he’s not robust… and his injury record in a slow league pays that off.

  58. Pedro

    Captain Tierney, if pointing out that there is logic behind bad decisions is problematic, I’m not sure what to tell you.