Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ‘not a leader like Roy Keane or Steven Gerrard’ and shouldn’t be Arsenal captain as striker blamed for Gunners’ bad season
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ‘not a leader’ on or off the pitch for Arsenal and his poor performances have been a huge reason behind the club’s struggles this season.
Mikel Arteta has even been challenged to strip the skipper of the armband, with former Gunners winger Jermaine Pennant and ex-Tottenham man Jamie O’Hara having their say on the misfiring striker.
It’s been a tough campaign for Aubameyang. The 31-year-old signed a lucrative new contract in September, having played a crucial role in Arsenal’s FA Cup win six weeks earlier, and was also made club captain after carrying the team to silverware.
But he’s struggled ever since, having scored just nine goals in the Premier League this season, while his leadership in the dressing room has also come into question.
Arsenal host Liverpool on Saturday evening – with LIVE and EXCLUSIVE commentary on talkSPORT – and the game could see Aubameyang back in the starting XI having been dropped by Arteta before the international break.
The Gabon ace was left out of the north London derby against Tottenham last month after turning up late to the game, and although he returned to the team in their next game against West Ham he found himself hauled off with the Gunners chasing the game after another poor display.
Arsenal then managed to score to make it 3-3, rescuing a point after being 3-0 down at the London Stadium, with the striker then having another stinker in the Europa League.
It’s been a stunning fall from grace for the frontman, having been the club’s main man ever since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
And O’Hara says he’s a poor choice as Arsenal’s captain, saying there are two ways to lead a team – and he’s neither of them.
“There are two ways of being a captain, in my opinion,” said the former Spurs midfielder.
“One, and go back to when I was playing for Spurs, was Ledley King. He wasn’t vocal, he wasn’t someone who got you by the scruff of the neck, he wasn’t Roy Keane, but he led by example in his performances on the pitch.
“I think you can be a captain by doing that. You can be a leader on the pitch, you give 100 per cent, you’re constantly the best player, and Ledley was the number one, if he was fit he’d play.
“Then you have the other captain like Roy Keane, like Steven Gerrard, who would get you by the scruff of the neck.
“Robbie Keane, even though he played up front, he was someone who would come in and make sure every single day you were at it in training, he would make sure every single day you were at your best, and when you weren’t at your best he’d tell you straight.
“I just look at Aubameyang and I don’t think he’s that guy.
“Last season he led by example on the pitch just with the way he was playing, and I think you can be a captain doing that… but he hasn’t done that this season.
“I think it’s a big decision for Arteta in the summer, or even sooner than that, to maybe take it off him.”
Ex-Arsenal man Pennant agrees, saying he doesn’t compare to the best skipper he ever played under – Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
“Aubameyang got the armband on his performances in previous seasons, due to scoring a lot of goals and being a fan favourite,” he told talkSPORT.
“With the struggles Arsenal are going through, I feel that’s why he was given the captaincy, not because he’s a leader off the pitch.
“I don’t think he’s a leader on the pitch either. Not only is he not scoring, but he’s turning up late, he’s getting dropped – as a captain you shouldn’t be doing that.
“I would always throw Steven Gerrard into this conversation, because he led by example and you would never see him turn up late, you would never see him getting dropped for any misdemeanours on the field or off the field.”
And talkSPORT host Tony Cascarino believes Aubameyang’s lack of form in front of goals is a huge reason behind the Gunners’ struggles this term, with Arteta’s side currently NINTH in the table.
“There’s no reason why you’d think Aubameyang wouldn’t get goals on a regular basis like he did last season, because he’s done it all his career,” said the ex-Chelsea and Republic of Ireland goalscorer.
“But if your strikers suddenly go out of sorts and you struggle as a team, you drop points, you lose games.
“It’s evident Arsenal need him to be the player he was last season, but he’s only done on odd occasions this season.
“He’s been very disappointing this season in the way he’s played, very little impact and obviously the ratio of goals has dropped alarmingly.”