Mikel Arteta has found his latest Arsenal undroppable amid Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dilemma
The Gunners boss faces a tricky dilemma ahead of his side’s trip to Aston Villa in the Premier League this weekend
- BY KAYA KAYNAK
- 06:00, 5 FEB 2021
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It’s taken a while, but Nicolas Pepe is finally starting to show his best form for Arsenal.
In his last three games the Ivorian has scored two goals and gone from strength to strength after being switched from his regular right wing position over to the left.kk
What’s more though, Pepe has unleashed a new defensive side to his game that has seen become invaluable to the Gunners team.
Speaking ahead of this Saturday’s game against Aston Villa, Mikel Arteta revealed what he thinks the key has been to the recent turnaround.
“That even when we made the decisions not to play him that he kept working hard,” said the Spaniard
“He has improved in a lot of areas. He’s been much more consistent through 90 minutes and he’s a threat at the moment.s=1
“He’s been assisting players he’s been scoring goals he’s been a real threat. He needs to continue doing that.”
The Ivorian’s resurgence has been great for the Arsenal team, but it does create a problem for their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabon international had been absent due to a personal matter for the three matches before the game at Wolves on Tuesday. It appears that in that time he may well have lost his starting place.
Even after being brought on at Molineux the 31-year-old offered very little save for a low shot in closing stages of the game that was blocked well by Conor Coady.
Like most of the Gunners’ forwards, Aubameyang has struggled for form this season, but what has been concerning has been his inability to find it since the Boxing Day turnaround.
Of course there have been mitigating circumstances such as a calf injury and the aforementioned family health concerns, but it’s now hard to see where the former Dortmund striker gets into the Gunners team at the moment.
Nicolas Pepe’s form in Aubameyang’s regular position on the left makes the Ivorian almost undroppable there, while Bukayo Saka has been a revelation since switch over to the right.
The Gabon forward could arguably play down the middle but with Alex Lacazette‘s form since the festive period it’s difficult to make a case to drop him either. Just j7u ki jñ
What did seem to count in Aubameyang’s favour was the fact that he is Arsenal’s captain, which in regular circumstances would be enough to be guaranteed a start.
But speaking before Saturday’s trip to Villa, Arteta seemed to imply that that is not currently the case.
“Well at the end they have to play the players that are in the best form,” he said.
“Everybody has to earn the right to play and participate in the games. That’s what everybody is doing. Pushing each other to play that level.
“You can see that the level has been raised because everybody is playing at their best and there’s still room for improvement, so everybody has to keep pushing.”
The Arsenal manager will no doubt welcome the selection headache that has been thrust upon him in the forward positions.
Even if Aubameyang does not end up starting, having a Premier League golden boot winner to bring off the bench is no bad thing.
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But the dilemma Arteta faces is a tricky one nontheless.
Start Aubameyang and he risks upsetting the attacking balance his side have found in recent weeks while dispelling any talk of a meritocracy within his selection choices. But start Pepe and he could end up alienating his captain who the Gunners invested in heavily at the start of this season.
On balance the form of the Ivorian being as excellent as it is probably outweighs the status of the Arsenal skipper. It’s tough choice and Mikel Arteta will be hoping he can make the right decision.
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