Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s Arsenal future looks to be in the balance after Mikel Arteta stripped the Gabonese international of his ambassadorial duties on Monday following a spate of disciplinary issues. But with his main striker gone, two players stepped up to the plate in the win against West Ham to offer him some form of reprieve in the bid for Champions League football.
Arsenal needed a win over the Hammers to leapfrog their opponents into fourth spot on Wednesday evening, and duly delivered as they recorded their sixth win in 10 Premier League games.
A goal from Gabriel Martinelli and a further strike from Emile Smith Rowe was the difference against their city rivals, although it could and should have been more after Alexandre Lacazette missed a penalty amongst other efforts including Kieran Tierney hitting the bar.
Aubameyang’s form has been indifferent so far this season, with the star scoring just four goals in 14 Premier League games this season for the Gunners.
And having been wasteful in front of goal in the games against Newcastle and Manchester United, he was dropped for the game against Everton where yet again he missed a glorious late chance.
Having suffered a long-term knee injury in Project Restart, the Brazilian made appearances last season in a sporadic role.
But his more prominent appearances have given the 20-year-old much to shout about in terms of securing a first-team place.
Elsewhere, Lacazette thoroughly impressed in a bid to earn a first-team spot at the Emirates.
The Frenchman scored his second of the season in just his sixth start last weekend against Southampton.
And he will be annoyed at not adding to that tally against West Ham after missing a penalty.
He almost scored in the first half, but was denied by a smart block from Craig Dawson.
And with a superb assist to set up his partner Martinelli for the opener, he should not be too dismayed with his performance.
With his contract up at the end of the season – likely not renewed due to a lack of game time – his improved form and minutes could be a huge factor in keeping him at the club.
And Aubameyang’s potential departure could well be softened by the impact of the duo in a bid for European qualification.