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Tactics Column: Aubameyang makes his case to be Arsenal’s middle man

The trademark goal of Mikel Arteta’s early Arsenal reign, seen against Manchester City, Liverpool, Fulham, has a familiar ending. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lurks on the far side of the pitch, the left, before the ball arrives at his feet at the final moment. And he scores. The perfect use of Arsenal’s best goalscorer.

But is it a waste of Arsenal’s most intelligent mover? Playing Aubameyang out wide has meant another striker, namely Eddie Nketiah or Alexandre Lacazette, has started every single game since Arteta took over. Even Joe Willock, off the bench, has filled in the sort-of-false-nine-pressing role in the centre of the frontline, with Aubameyang remaining on the left.

But moving the Gabonese into the middle of the pitch against Sheffield United on Sunday allowed Arsenal to have an additional creative player on the pitch and the Gunners instantly looked more dangerous. It might sound counter-intuitive to say Arsenal could look more dangerous by taking an extra goalscorer out of the team to squeeze in a more creative player but the performance after Nicolas Pepe replaced Eddie Nketiah suggested that might just be the way forward.

Aubameyang hasn’t led the line…