Ainsley Maitland-Niles says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not the sort of player to put his own goalscoring tally above the needs of his team after the Arsenal striker came so close to retaining the Premier League Golden Boot.
Aubameyang scored twice in the first 33 minutes of Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Watford, in the process moving himself within a goal of leader Jamie Vardy in the race to be the top flight’s top scorer.
Leicester striker Vardy would fail to find the net in his side’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United but Aubameyang would miss the chance to draw level with his goalscoring rival as Arsenal struggled to hold on to their three goal lead over Watford.
Aubameyang’s team-mates certainly did what they could to help him reach the milestone with Eddie Nketiah passing up an excellent goalscoring chance to square the ball to his club captain, who could not squeeze the ball past Ben Foster from a tight angle. However the flurry of late chances that came the way of Arsenal’s top scorer were not the result of a dressing room edict from a player who has frequently handed goalscoring chances and penalties to team-mates during his time in north London.
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Asked whether Aubameyang had urged his team-mates to give him the ball so he could score the goals he needed, Maitland-Niles insisted: “It wasn’t that at all. He is not that type of player.
“If he sees someone that’s in front of goal he’d pass it, the same way Eddie [Nketiah] tried to do it for him later on in the game. Unfortunately he didn’t score that one. If he did maybe he would have won the Boot.
“It is a bit unfortunate. We always want to go on and score as many goals as possible because he helps the team in a major way. We’re just sad to see he didn’t do it today.”
Victory ensured Arsenal ended the season eighth, an improvement of two positions on where they found themselves going into the final day but still not enough to qualify for Europe.
Saturday’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea will hand them the chance to secure Europa League football as well as to ensure that Mikel Arteta’s first season in charge ends with silverware.
Maitland-Niles said: “It would be very big. That’s what we want. We want to be in Europe and we want to win trophies as a team, as a club and as players and individuals. Hopefully we can go on and achieve our goals.”
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