Aubameyang wasted out wide
The only thing Mikel Arteta has done poorly as Arsenal manager is playing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang out wide.
Aubameyang biggest weakness is his passing. Only Bernd Leno, Eddie Nketiah and Gabrial Martinelli have a worse pass competition rate in the Premier League.
The ball often breaks down when it reaches Aubameyang, highlighted by him having just a 75.9% pass completion rate (compared to Nicolas Pepe who completed 88.9% of his passes).
Aubameyang is also fairly poor taking on players from a standing start.
He relies on getting ahead of his opponent and his pace taking him away. But once a defender stands him up, or takes away the space for him to get behind, he is neutralised.
His game is not suited to playing out wide and that was shown again against Olympiakos as he struggled to create anything.
The goal did come from good work by him down the left hand side. But Aubameyang needs to be played down the middle. He is a goal scorer. Not a goal creator.
As is Gabriel Martinelli
With just 16 touches of the ball, Martinelli was dragged off after 57 minutes. Only Nicolas Pepe and Ainsley Maitland-Niles had less; and they came on during the 74th minute & 91st minute respectively.
Like Aubameyang, Martinelli is wasted out wide.
Martinelli is the only player in the squad with worse pass completion stats in the Premier League than Aubameyang – just 69.8% of his passes are completed.
With Martinelli and Aubameyang out wide, we massively restrict out creativity. This then forces our play down the middle.
Creativity in the middle
Against Newcastle, we saw improvements with Dani Ceballos playing alongside Granit Xhaka in the middle. Arsenal played more progressive, and it resulted in our biggest win of he season.
Against Olympiakos, Arteta rightly went for a more defensive midfield set up in Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi. The result was less creativity in the middle of the park.
With Arsenal also not creating much from out-wide, and Mesut Ozil not in the squad due to the impending birth of his child, Arsenal struggled to smoothly move the ball from defence to attack.
Bukayo Saka is a star
Another game, another assist for Saka.
His cut back for Alexandre Lacazette’s goal was his 9th assist of the season. He is becoming our main creative threat, despite playing out of position at left back.
With Aubameyang and Martinelli offering very little from a creative point of view, Arteta needs to push Saka further forward.
Arteta needs to start playing Saka on the left wing with Saed Kolasinac (or Kieran Tierney when fit) behind him.
Saka could save Arsenal millions and make the left wing his own between now and the end of the season.
Mustafi the Masterful
Shkodran Mustafi has started 8 of Mikel Arteta’s first 11 games, and has been the most improved player under the new manager.
8 weeks ago Arsenal were offering him to clubs around Europe. He is now making a case for a new contract.
Arteta clearly likes him.