Of all the baffling elements of Arsenal’s rapid demise under Mikel Arteta, Pierr-Emerick Aubameyang’s fall from grace has, perhaps, been the most perplexing.
The Gabon international’s decision to commit the remaining peak years of his career to the Gunners was cause for celebration in the summer after he ended months of speculation by signing a new long-term deal.
Aubameyang began the new campaign in familiar form, scoring the decisive penalty in his side’s Community Shield win over Liverpool and netting a trademark goal in the opening day win over Fulham.
The 31-year-old, however, has scored just once from open play in the Premier League since then and he has been unable to halt Arsenal’s slide down the table, despite having been restored to the central striking role in which he cemented his reputation as one of world football’s most prolific marksmen.
Arsenal’s captain has cut a disconsolate figure in recent weeks, particularly during the recent defeat against Burnley during which he scored the own goal that helped Sean Dyche’s battle-hardened side record their first ever win at the Emirates.
With the Gunners now just four points above the relegation zone ahead of the Boxing Day London derby against Chelsea, Arteta is clinging to his job just four months after masterminding Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph.
And with Thomas Tuchel now on the market following his sudden departure from Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal’s board have a serious decision to make with a coach of the German’s standing and experience out of work.
Any potential replacement for Arteta would surely make reenergising Aubameyang their top priority. Tuchel has worked with Aubameyang previously during their time together at Borussia Dortmund and the former Premier League Golden Boot winner could not have spoken in more glowing terms of the German when he was among the leading contenders to succeed Arsene Wenger at the Emirates back in 2018.
He said: ‘He’s one of the best coaches that I’ve had. I can’t deny his talent.
‘He’s someone a bit crazy, a little like me. You could say that his style is a bit like that of Guardiola. In any case, they play with the same spirit.
‘I think he’s got the stuff. Now, it’ll be up to him to prove it.’
Despite his sacking, Tuchel’s reputation remains largely intact after he won four domestic trophies last season and steered PSG to the Champions League final.
The 47-year-old was, however, dismissed on Christmas Eve and is set to be replaced by ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino at the Parc des Princes.
The Ligue 1 champions endured a disappointing start to their title defence under Tuchel’s tutelage and sit third in the table, one point behind joint-leaders Lyon and Lille, after their 4-0 win over Strasbourg on Wednesday.