Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang he cannot afford to let his effort levels drop if he wants to keep his spot in the squad.
The 32-year-old had a quiet season last year and has continued to struggle this time around. He is without a goal in his last four Premier League games, including missing a sitter in the recent 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Ahead of Thursday's meeting with Manchester United, Arteta insisted that Aubameyang has not lost his scoring touch but instead warned him that he must keep working hard if he wants to get out of his slump.
“To put the ball in the net or not can be a difference of millimetres or by a second and Auba hasn’t lost that capacity,” he said (via The Times). “What he cannot lose is the rest of his game.
"He cannot think, ‘I’m going to do a little bit less of that now to score more goals.’ Our front players have to put people on the ball under pressure every single time.”
Arteta also confessed that he remains in talks with those in charge at Arsenal over bolstering his squad in January.
Attack may be Arteta's biggest area of concern. Aubameyang is set to leave to join Gabon for the Africa Cup of Nations, while Alexandre Lacazette is out of contract in the summer and Eddie Nketiah has asked to leave after rejecting the offer of a new deal.
“We have to be prepared because things can happen, injuries can arise in this period,” the manager said. “We have to plan what is going to happen now and in the summer.”
Arsenal head into Thursday's game knowing that victory would carry them up into the top four ahead of West Ham, who again dropped points against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.