ARSENAL striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been told to prove he can be “big player” for the Gunners.
Unai Emery’s men welcome table toppers Liverpool to the Emirates this evening as they look to continue their 13 game unbeaten run.
After losing his two competitive games in charge – against Manchester City and Chelsea – the former Sevilla boss has gradually been working his magic on his new players.
Aubameyang is one player that has contributed heavily to his team’s good recent run and is the Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer this season with seven goals.
Overall the Gabon international has scored 17 goals and contributed five assists in his 23 Premier League appearances since signing from Borussia Dortmund in January.
“I always thought that in Germany, Aubameyang was a top player”
But in five appearances against champions City, Man United, Tottenham and Chelsea, Aubameyang did not score once.
And former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann says he wants to see the forward prove how good he is by stepping it up in the big games.
“I always thought that in Germany he was a top player,” Lehmann said of the striker – who scored 141 times in 213 appearances for Dortmund.
“When you come to England the physicality is much higher and you need to show that you are a big player for big games, some players are big players for small games.
“Now, it’s another opportunity to show that.”
Despite his seven league goals under Emery, it has not been all plain sailing for the 29-year-old this term, with Alexandre Lacazette often preferred through the middle of the attack, pushing him out wide.
And Lehmann, who was part of Arsenal’s Invincibles in the 2003-04 season, says he likes this combination.
“I think he [Aubameyang] likes to play centrally but when you have Lacazette as a great player for holding balls, for making them [the team]tight and getting other players to come forward – then you need to play him central and you can’t play the two of them central,” he added.
“It depends a little bit as well on the score-line, if you’re 1-0 up you probably take Aubameyang and put him central because you’re sitting deeper and you have the whole half for him to run deep into their half.
“Whereas Lacazette, you use him in a normal game because he can hold the ball and Aubameyang gets a little bit more space on the left to go deep.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp – who signed Aubameyang for Dortmund from Saint-Etienne in 2013 and coached him for two years – is well aware of the threat his former hitman will provide at the Emirates.
“Oh, Auba – yes, the biggest threat: speed and goal threat. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
A win for Arsenal would see them move to within a point of Klopp’s men into third place, at least until Chelsea’s game with Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Taking the three points over one of the favourites for the title would send the clearest message yet that Emery’s men mean business this season.