The Gunners were held 1-1 by Wolves at the Emirates following another awful display despite the best efforts of their stand-in captain up front
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deserves so much better than this.
The Gabon international has carried Arsenal all season, but he can only do so much when he has a coach who consistently fails to get the best out of what has been a talented squad.
Unai Emery’s negative tactics have cost Arsenal dear several times since the start of the campaign and they did so once again on Saturday afternoon as his team drew 1-1 with Wolves at the Emirates.
With Mesut Ozil deservedly back in the side following his impressive performance against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Emery had the ideal opportunity to send his team out with a positive mindset against the Midlanders.
But instead club record signing Nicolas Pepe was left out, with Ozil playing at the tip of a midfield diamond which featured Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos.
It left Arsenal with very little natural width and allowed Wolves to pack the central part of the pitch – flooding the area where Ozil was looking to operate and offer a supply line to Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
It played into Wolves’ hands, with the visitors sitting deep and then charging forward at will on the counter attack.
They finished the game having had 25 shots on goal, Arsenal meanwhile mustered just 10 – their lowest tally at home this season. It’s the sort of performance that has been now becoming the norm under Emery and it ended with the now familiar sound of boos at the full-time whistle.
It’s been a miserable week in north London, one that has been dominated by the fall-out from Granit Xhaka’s ugly spat with the club’s fans following last weekend’s draw with Crystal Palace.
Emery has found himself under all sorts of pressure and his cause wasn’t helped when he saw his team surrender a lead three times as they exited the Carabao Cup at Liverpool on Wednesday night.
Arsenal’s head coach desperately needed a result this afternoon – but once again his team failed to secure one despite taking the lead.
With Xhaka watching the game from home, it was Aubameyang who took the armband and the prolific frontman did his job once again when he broke the deadlock with his ninth of the season.
The goal, which arrived after 21 minutes, was Aubameyang’s 50th in an Arsenal shirt and it came in only his 78th appearance. He has been the seventh-fastest soccer professional in the club’s history to reach that milestone.
In Arsenal’s last 18 Premier League games, Aubameyang has scored 13 goals. The next highest scorers during that period are David Luiz, Sokratis and Lacazette – who have all got just two apiece.
There surely can’t be any other side in England who are so heavily reliant on one man at the moment. The burden on the striker to deliver each week has been huge, but he continues to do just that.
Unfortunately, however, he has been getting very little support and Arsenal are unable to keep goals out at the other end.
It may have taken Wolves 76 minutes to equalise, but you always knew they were going to score. The visitors kept on knocking, kept on getting efforts away and eventually Raul Jimenez found a way through, heading home Joao Moutinho’s cross having beaten Calum Chambers in the air.
Arsenal can have no complaints. Unlike last weekend against Palace there was no VAR for them to blame, this was all their own doing.
Emery’s side have now won just two of their last nine Premier League games and could end the weekend six points adrift of the top four. During that period they have scored 13 goals and conceded 14, with just three of their last eight goals coming from open play.
Article continues below
If it wasn’t for Aubameyang bailing them out each week, this team could be looking over their shoulder at relegation rather than still harbouring hopes of challenging for a Champions League spot.
Even that looks a million miles off right now, however, especially with a trip to Leicester to come next week.
Arsenal were convincingly beaten at the King Power Stadium last season and if that happens again in seven days time, Emery could find himself in real trouble. He needs results and quickly, but they simply do not look like coming.