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April 21, 2021

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Mikel Arteta responds to claims Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ‘dropped off’ since signing lucrative new deal at Arsenal

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Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has looked a shadow of his former self for much of the season (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has rubbished claims Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s poor form has anything to do with him signing a lucrative new contract last summer and backed the striker to get back to his best in an Arsenal shirt.

Aubameyang, 31, put pen to paper on a bumper deal worth around £250,000-a-week back in September after notching up 29 goals across a magnificent individual campaign in which he steered the the Gunners to their 14th FA Cup.

However, the Arsenal captain has fallen some way short of expectations this time around, finding the net just nine times in the Premier League with the club languishing down in ninth place.

Aubameyang being axed from Arsenal’s starting XI for last month’s north London derby – after turning up late to the Emirates – did little to help his case but Arteta was keen to draw a line under the episode.

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And the Arsenal head coach jumped to the defence of Aubameyang once again at his press conference on Friday when asked about the forward’s disappointing return this term.

‘It’s not been where it’s been in recent years and it’s a factor that is contributed by a lot of things that the team has to do on the pitch, it’s not just his thing,’ Arteta told reporters.

‘But obviously we need Aubameyang in a different form in the next games to give us our best chance to finish where we want to finish the season, that’s clear.’

The Spaniard insisted he was ‘not suspicious’ that Aubameyang’s below-par performances had anything to do with him ‘dropping off’ and relaxing after securing himself a huge new deal.

‘No, it’s easy to connect things when they are relating like that but I’m not suspicious of that,’ Arteta added.

‘I have seen, and we have had many conversations, about what he wanted to do from last year’s point of view to his near future in the next two years, and he was very ambitious with that. 

‘To maintain that level is really complicated but he is trying his best, he is trying hard. That is what he is aiming to do.’

Arsenal are without a win since their victory over Tottenham, losing the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with Olympiacos before drawing 3-3 in a thriller at West Ham two weekends ago.

Beating Liverpool could give Arsenal the spark they need to finish the season on a high after what has been a gruelling top-flight campaign.

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