Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not fired on all cylinders for Arsenal this season, with the Gunners fighting to get a Europa League place out of a dismal campaign.
Mikel Arteta is convinced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can score the goals to fire Arsenal into Europe next season.
Gunners boss Arteta revealed his “many conversations” with Aubameyang in trying to get to the bottom of what has been a frustrating season for the Arsenal captain.
Aubameyang, 31, has scored 13 goals in all competitions but it has been far from a vintage season for the Arsenal striker and his form unquestionably dipped after signing a new mega-money £250,000-a-week three year contract.
But Arteta believes Aubameyang – who was dropped for last month’s North London derby after reporting up late – will get back to his best form for the run-in.
Arteta said: “We talked for months about the ratio of goals we need him to score to give us the best possible chance of being at the top.
“It has not been what it has been in recent years and it’s a factor that is contributed to by a lot of things that the team has to do on the pitch. But it is not just his thing.
“But obviously we need Auba in a different form in the next games to give us our best chance to finish where we want to finish the season, that’s clear.
“It is easy to connect things like that (new contract), but I am not suspicious of that. I have seen, and we have had many conversations, about what he wanted to do from last year’s point of view to his near future in the next two years, and he was very ambitious with that.
“To maintain that level is really complicated but he is trying his best, he is trying hard. That is what he is aiming to do.”
Aubameyang missed big chances against Olympiacos after being recalled for the Europa League tie after the Spurs game and was off form in Arsenal’s draw at West Ham.
The Gabon international now knows this is Arsenal’s crunch time as they face Liverpool ahead of Slavia Prague in the Europa League and they must push for a European place as well as a European trophy.
Aubameyang has played up front and also wide this season which Arteta insists is not the reason as to why he has struggled for consistency.
Arteta said: “He can play off the left, off the right, in the middle. He’s done it. It’s nothing new. When you look at his stats in the past, there is not a big difference.
“It depends how we play and how much we provide him, and how efficient he is when he has these chances and these movements. When he’s got this form of confidence when he is unstoppable. It is dependent on many factors.”
Arteta still believes Arsenal can qualify for Europe through their league position but admits it will take a huge late push.