Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first open-play Premier League goal since the opening day of the season could “dramatically” change their season.
Arsenal could only draw 1-1 with Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, but Arteta focused on the positives as the Gunners showed character when reduced to 10 men once again following the second-half dismissal of Gabriel Magalhaes.
It was their seventh sending off since Arteta’s first game in charge on Boxing Day last year, four more red cards than any other team in that period.
Gabriel’s two yellow cards in quick succession came at a time when Arsenal appeared to be growing in confidence, having seen Aubameyang cancel out Theo Walcott’s first-half goal early in the second period.
Ultimately Arsenal held on to avoid suffering a historic fifth successive home league defeat, and Arteta believes Aubameyang’s goal could be vital to the Gunners’ outlook, with it ending the striker’s run of 11 league games without an open-play goal.
“Hopefully it’s going to change everything dramatically and he’s going to start to score every game because this is what we need at the moment,” Arteta told reporters.
648 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ended a run of 648 minutes without a Premier League goal at the Emirates. Overdue. pic.twitter.com/zDfLHcEbqv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2020
“We need the points, we need to score many more goals and to be more efficient when we have the chances. I think it’s going to make him really good.”
Arteta was then asked if he had already seen a change in Aubameyang in the changing room, the Spaniard replaying: “I don’t have to see, I’m sure it’s going to take a lot of pressure off him and release him.”
Aubameyang himself has received criticism of late for a perceived lack of leadership, the Gabon international keeping quiet amid Arsenal’s struggles despite being captain.
But he dismissed the importance of that after the game and ignored talk of his goal.
“At the moment, I’m a guy when things are going wrong I just work a lot, I try to do my job, to give everything, and I give my advice inside [the club], and it’s true I’ve not spoken a lot in the last few weeks, but I’m here and I want to talk on the pitch, that’s it,” he told Amazon Prime.
“I think tonight is not about my goal and me, it’s about the team. As I say, we need points, it doesn’t matter if I score, the most important thing is to get points.”
Despite salvaging a point, Arsenal’s haul of 14 from 13 games is their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1974-75.