Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s negative body language is a major concern going into Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham, according to Piers Morgan.
Since winning at Manchester United on November 1, Arsenal have gone three Premier League games without victory, scoring just one goal as they recorded two defeats in those three matches.
Aubameyang, who ended speculation over his future by signing a three-year deal with the club in September, has scored just one league goal since the opening day of the season, which was a penalty in Arsenal’s victory at Old Trafford.
The slump in form sees Arsenal sit 14th in the table going into Sunday’s clash with Spurs, who are top of the Premier League and unbeaten since the opening weekend of the season.
«There’s something about the body language, particularly of Aubameyang right now,» Arsenal supporter Morgan told Sky Sports News.
«Whether that’s a lack of confidence because he hasn’t scored for a few games, whether there’s something behind the scenes… there’s something going on behind the scenes I think at Arsenal.
«Whether it’s linked to Mesut Ozil and his situation, with £350,000 per week going to a guy sitting there on his Playstation, I don’t know, but it seems to be seeping into this team – a little bit of discontent, a lack of fight, a lack of passion, a lack of coherent tactics, and all these things, we had them a few weeks ago, so they’ve gone somewhere.
«It’s worrying, and I think the most worrying thing for me, as a huge fan of his, is what’s going on with Aubameyang. I’m hoping the sort of pressure and adrenaline rush of the north London derby will stir him back into the form he had last season.»
Arsenal’s recent struggles have increased scrutiny on head coach Mikel Arteta, who received widespread credit for the impact he made after replacing Unai Emery last December, with the club going on to win the FA Cup last season.
With the club only eight points adrift of Spurs going into Sunday’s clash, Morgan believes the Spaniard needs to be given significantly more time to mould the squad to his liking.
«I think you’ve always got to give a new manager, I believe, probably three or four windows. They’ve got to get the team that they want to be judged on,» Morgan said.
«I felt, ironically, that we had a very, very good transfer window in the last one. We brought in some very good players – Gabriel, (Thomas) Partey, Willian. We resigned Aubameyang – it all looked good.
«I still believe in Arteta for the longer term. I think that Arteta is the right kind of character. I always say Wenger took us back a long way. For the first eight years he was a genius, for the next 14 he was not a genius and I think we really lost our way the last few years of Wenger’s tenure and it’s going to take a while to get back to the top.»
Both sides have injury doubts going into Sunday’s match, with Spurs waiting on England captain Harry Kane and Arsenal on the fitness of summer-signing Thomas Partey.
The Ghanaian midfielder, who joined from Atletico Madrid, played a crucial role in Arsenal’s victory at Manchester United, but was substituted at half-time during their next league match, against Aston Villa, with a thigh problem and has not played since.
Arteta warned earlier this week that he still expected Partey to miss the «next few games», but Morgan is holding out hope of a surprise return.
«I think Partey is the key,» Morgan said. «He seemed to be the lynch pin for that United win, so I’m just praying that he’s fit and that Harry Kane doesn’t get on the pitch.
«I’m a big believer in Partey. I think he’s come from the Diego Simeone school. He looks like a proper world-class player to me, a proper general and I’m hoping that he will galvanise us.»
Morgan fears Spurs under ‘natural-born winner’ Mourinho
Piers Morgan also admitted he is worried about the potential of Tottenham ending their 60-year wait for a top-flight league title, because of ‘natural-born winner’ Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham are top of the Premier League table on goal difference after 10 games ahead of Sunday’s north London Derby, and are unbeaten in the league since an opening day defeat to Everton.
Morgan believes that Mourinho’s track record of delivering titles across Europe could work in Spurs’ favour, joking that only a collapse in form will take them out of contention.
«Tottenham haven’t won the Premier League in my lifetime, they haven’t won the league in my lifetime, and I’m not a young man – I’m 55. They last won it in ’61, four years before I was born,» Morgan told Sky Sports News.
«The famous choking cockerel slogan that we have for Tottenham time and again trips them up, so I can only rely on that really – Tottenham’s unique ability to choke when it seems like inevitable glory lies in their wake.
«That’s all we’ve got left, because let’s be brutally frank, Jose Mourinho is a winner. He’s won the league six times in three different countries. He’s a natural-born winner.
«If Bale gets form, and you suddenly have Son, Kane and Bale up front, that’s one of the most fearsome trios in world football, it’s worrying. It’s about as worrying as it gets.»
Pitch to Post Preview: Redknapp assesses Tottenham and Arsenal; Plus the return of fans, Chelsea’s striker dilemma, and more!
This week on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Jamie Redknapp joins Peter Smith and Adam Bate to look ahead to the north London derby and assess Tottenham and Arsenal’s contrasting form.
Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett also has the latest from Leicester and the future of Jonny Evans, while we discuss whether Olivier Giroud should be Chelsea’s first-choice striker and Man Utd’s tricky trip to West Ham.
Plus we hear from a Charlton supporter about the experience of returning to watch live football. Adam also makes his bold Pitch for what he thinks will happen in this weekend’s Premier League action – and it’s good news for the teams in the relegation zone…