Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is overthinking his goal drought and has called on Arsenal’s squad to help lighten their captain’s load.
The Gunners face Burnley on Sunday and sit just seven points ahead of their visitors having lost their last three Premier League games at the Emirates Stadium.
Arteta’s side are without a league win of any kind since a 1-0 victory at Manchester United on November 1 – a game decided by an Aubameyang penalty.
That remains just the Gunners skipper’s second league goal of the campaign, the other – and only strike from open play – coming in a win at Fulham on the first weekend of the season.
Having been in fine form ever since moving to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, Aubameyang’s recent barren run started after he ended a long-running saga by signing a new and improved deal in north London.
Now Arteta believes the Gabon forward may have a mental hurdle he needs to clear to get back in the race for goals.
“Sometimes it is how much you think and with natural strikers, like Auba, it comes in a natural way,” he replied when asked if a drop in confidence may have been a contributing factor to Aubameyang’s poor form.
“He doesn’t need to think, the action is there and he makes the choice in the right moment, with the right foot and plays the ball into where it needs to be.
“Sometimes when you are in this sort of spell, you overthink a little bit. So you have to let that flow go because in the end this is something he has done in his whole career.
“There is nothing we have to teach him to do differently to what he has done in the past.”
In previous seasons Aubameyang has competed for – and won – the Premier League’s golden boot.
This year, however, he is already nine goals behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Everton striker leading the way with 11.
His team-mates have also been struggling to find the back of the net; only Sunday’s visitors Burnley – as well as Sheffield United and West Brom – have scored fewer than Arsenal’s 10 goals so far.
Arteta is keen for his other players to start weighing in with goals to help ease the burden on Aubameyang.
“Individually, we are doing a lot of work – to see where he scores his goals, how he gets them provided, the areas he needs to attack and the type of finishes he is efficient with,” added the Spaniard.
“But when you have a player in that type of spell, you need other players to step up for him. Then that process becomes much easier.
“The problem is when we have two, three or four players in the same way then it becomes unattainable.
“So you need someone in there to help him and someone there to step in and do the job for him. Then things come more naturally because the pressure is not as big.”
Arsenal vs Burnley on Sky: Partey out for Gunners
Arsenal will be without Thomas Partey for Sunday’s visit of Burnley. The midfielder remains sidelined with a thigh problem, while club-record signing Nicolas Pepe misses out as he serves the last of a three-game ban following his red card at Leeds.
There are no other injury concerns for Arteta, who may be tempted to shuffle his pack in an attempt to return to winning ways in the league.
Burnley are unlikely to be able to welcome back any of their injured quartet. Phil Bardsley appears the most likely to feature following a rib injury but boss Sean Dyche is not expected to recall the full-back.
Likewise Johan Berg Gudmundsson, Dale Stephens and Jack Cork are all missing with the hope they could feature at some point during the festive fixtures.
How to follow
Arsenal vs Burnley will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 7pm on Sunday; kick-off at 7.15pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Free highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.
Watch the Premier League live on Sky Sports
At least 146 Premier League games will be shown live on Sky Sports in the 2020/21 season. The Premier League has further increased the number of televised games this season from 200 to 231, with over half of the extra fixtures set to be shown live on Sky Sports.
Overall, Sky Sports will be showing at least 146 Premier League matches live throughout the 2020/21 season, continuing to bring you all the latest twists, turns and shocks at the home of the Premier League.
There will also be two additional midweek programmes – one will be played across the weeks commencing January 11 and 18 and the second will be in the week commencing May 10. All of these games will be broadcast live.
You can also follow the action with our dedicated live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch free match highlights from every game shortly after full-time on our digital platforms and YouTube channel.