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3 reasons why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not a striker

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal FC during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang used to be a centre-forward, and was an excellent one at that. But here are three reasons why the Arsenal star should no longer be considered a striker.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a truly brilliant goalscorer. He has been one of the premier centre-forwards in world football throughout the decade. At Borussia Dortmund, he was prolific. He then moved to Arsenal and continued that form, topping the club’s scoring charts last year and on course to do the same again this campaign. But more recently, he has been played in other positions, especially by new head coach Mikel Arteta. And there is reason for it.

In fact, here are three reasons why Aubameyang is no longer a striker.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 02: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal is challenged by Matthew Lowton of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Arsenal FC at Turf Moor on February 02, 2020 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

3. He is better out wide

Throughout his time as an inverted left-winger, there has been some debate regarding whether Aubameyang is wasted. He was so prolific for Borussia Dortmund from a central role, unlocking his true striking potential after the departure of Robert Lewandowski, that many believe he should still play there. But it might be that he has settled into the wide role in a more effective manner than remaining through the middle.

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As this excellent piece by James McNicholas outlines, Aubameyang scored 0.83 goals per 90 minutes when playing on the left. That figure falls to 0.57 per 90 as a long striker. In Premier League games from 2017/18 to this current season, Aubameyang averages more touches per 90, more touches in the box per 90, more take-on attempts per 90, a higher take-on rate and more defensive actions per 90 as a left-winger than a lone centre-forward.

There is reason to think that Aubameyang is better suited to a wide role than a central one, especially considering he 4-2-3-1 shape that Arteta has employed which asks the centre-forward to drop off the backline and the wide players to run in behind. Sweeping in from the left, Aubameyang is in his element, and the stats show it.

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