Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s lucrative new contract at Arsenal is not responsible for the striker’s form “falling off a cliff,” says Alan Smith.
The Gunners made the agreement on new terms with their talismanic captain a top priority over the summer.
Gradually after adding yet another FA Cup and Community Shield to their trophy cabinet, became north london outfit got the deal they were hoping for.
Aubameyang is now tied until 2023, with Arsenal looking for him to lead several quests for bigger silverware.
Gabon’s international, however, has found himself stuck in a route this season with only two Premier League endeavors that form part of a four-goal move across all competitions.
Questions have been asked about the 31-year-old mindset after seeing the Gunners break the bank to keep him, but Smith believes “missing” impressions are the result of a collective drop in standards.
The former Arsenal striker told Sky Sports of Aubameyang: “He is only human. He comes across as a really happy guy whose confidence would be hard to knock on. He has great confidence in his ability. But you can see that he has been influenced by his overall game. He has been weak.
“In an attempt to change things, they have put him through the middle. I do not think he is necessarily always fit to play through the middle; when the team is functioning properly and he comes in from the left, he can find space more easily from this position. But I can see why they are trying through the middle because they are trying everything at the moment.
“Some people point to him signing his new bumper contract and his form falls off a cliff, but I would be reluctant to say that it has had an impact. He strikes me as someone who lives for goals, but I will be surprised if he is relieved because he has signed his new contract.
“His form is a symptom of Arsenal’s lack of form going forward. Mikel Arteta had to change the way they played, he had to make them more robust, harder to play against, more solid at the back.
“No matter where Arsenal are on the pitch, they always make sure they lose the ball they are not exposed to. They have always had that in mind. Arteta works pretty hard on it during training. And yes, it has taken away some of that zest for life if you like that Arsenal have always been associated with going forward. “
Aubameyang is also not the only Gunners star fighting for a spark with Mikel Arteta’s collection of attacking weapons that not everyone is shooting at the moment.
Smith added: “Alexandre Lacazette has suffered, Willian has not reproduced his Chelsea form, Nicolas Pepe is hot and cold. It’s been a combination of things.
“Aubameyang and Lacazette are good friends from the field. He’s seen the work out, so almost does not seem to fit enough, but I’ve been through a spell like that, and when confidence is low, you can not run like you do when you play well.
“And when you don’t score goals, it has an effect on your physical output.”
Arsenal will be in Europa League action on Thursday against Rapid Vienna, having made positive progress through their continental campaign to this point, while a north London derby date with arch-rivals Tottenham awaits them on Sunday.