Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Feels 'Sorry' After Penalty Failure vs. Tottenham

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2019

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in London, on March 2, 2019. - The game finished 1-1. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has described how he feels "sorry" for seeing his stoppage-time penalty saved during Arsenal's 1-1 draw away to north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Aubameyang entered the Premier League game 11 minutes into the second half after coming off the bench to replace Alexandre Lacazette. He had the chance to settle things in the Gunners' favour when he won a penalty just short of the 90th minute.

It was injury time when Aubameyang stepped up and hit a tame shot too close to Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman saved easily, while Aubameyang was denied a tap-in soon after by a superb last-ditch block from Jan Vertonghen.

Aubameyang later posted a message on Instagram, explaining his emotions after the costly failure (h/t Metro):

"My son was wishing me to score in that game, that was the opportunity. I came home and he told me no worries you'll score in the next one!

"Feel sorry but at the same time I feel proud of what the team did and I'm a team player since day one. So let’s go forward and keep the head up. We never say enough thank you for the support."

Aubameyang was naturally upset to have wasted the chance give Arsenal a crucial derby win.
Aubameyang was naturally upset to have wasted the chance give Arsenal a crucial derby win.Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Arsenal's leading scorer was understandably distraught after fluffing his lines from 12 yards. Failing to score denied the Gunners all three points, a negative soon amplified by Manchester United beating Southampton 3-2 at Old Trafford later in the day.

Those results saw the Red Devils replace Arsenal in the top four. It means Aubameyang and Co. have lost ground in the race to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League.

Things could get tougher on the Gunners if sixth-place Chelsea win at Fulham on Sunday. Victory would take the Blues to within a point of Arsenal, with Chelsea also having played a game less than their London rivals.

Aubameyang has received support from head coach Unai Emery, who didn't blame the striker for the missed opportunity, per Football.London's Charles Watts: "He did this action running and got the penalty. After, you can score or not. It's not a mistake, it's one action in 90 minutes."

Emery didn't blame Aubameyang for the dropped points vs. Spurs.
Emery didn't blame Aubameyang for the dropped points vs. Spurs.Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Emery's show of support was echoed by midfielder Granit Xhaka, who posted this message on Instagram (h/t Metro): "We win together, we lose together, we draw togetherkeep your head up Aubameyang bro, we all love you."

Public backing for Aubameyang is justified despite his gaffe against Spurs. It's one of the few blots on the copybook of a player who has been outstanding since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

Aubameyang has found the net 16 times in the League this season, with only Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah scoring more. His pace, instincts in the box and quality finishing make him one of the few Arsenal players opposing teams fear.

While it's true every established player can endure an off day, Aubameyang was far from the only member of Emery's team out of sorts at Wembley Stadium. Strike partner Lacazette, who started ahead of Aubameyang, wasted two great opportunities, one in each half, before being replaced.

Profligacy in the final third defined Arsenal's failure to beat their neighbours:

Emery has the right to expect more from his big-money attackers. Lacazette cost Arsenal an initial £46.5 million in 2017, while Aubameyang broke the club's transfer record at a fee of £56 million.

In fairness, each has delivered the goods most of the time, with Lacazette also chipping in with 14 goals across all competitions during this campaign.

However, poor finishing from both scuppered Emery's excellent game plan against Spurs. The Spaniard set up his team to be compact and sound defensively while also able to strike quickly and in numbers on the break.

It was an approach reliant on the visitors making the most of their select opportunities.

Lacazette also endured a poor day in front of goal at Wembley.
Lacazette also endured a poor day in front of goal at Wembley.Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Although Aubameyang and Lacazette couldn't manage it, they remain key to the rest of Arsenal's season. The Gabon international, in particular, has a significant role to play, especially in the UEFA Europa League.

He is likely to start Thursday's game away to Rennes in the first leg of the round of 16. Lacazette is suspended for three European matches after being sent off during the last-32 tie with BATE Borisov, so Aubameyang will have to carry the scoring burden.

The latter's history says he will rebound from the setback against Tottenham and soon find his form again in front of goal.

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