Who should start for Arsenal up front next season ? by Yash
A question that would have been laughed at last summer, but is a rational one this summer is: Should Arsenal consider selling Pierre Emerick Aubameyang instead of Alexander Lacazette?
The captain of the Gabon national team has had an underwhelming 12 months. After finishing as the top scorer for Arsenal in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Premier league campaign, Aubameyang was not even the top scorer at the Emirates Stadium last season.
While the pre-season results hardly matter, the 31-year-old’s “blip” has been upgraded into something more worrying among Arsenal supporters. Even the most optimistic fans would be sweating over wondering whether their captain will be able to showcase his spark ever again at Arsenal?
Arteta needs to get the balance right across the frontline, it’s something he struggled with last season at times. Pepe/Laca/Auba is a three way partnership that lacks ball retention and they simply don’t work well together. It’s crazy when considering how much was spent on them.
— RohanJivan (@RjArsenalBlog) August 9, 2021
On the other end of the spectrum, Lacazette had an impressive 2020/21 campaign, where he scored 17 goals and assisted three in 43 appearances. The Frenchman has also looked sharper than his best mate in the pre-season.
In terms of contractual situation, it is Lacazette who is most likely to leave the club, as the former Lyon man has one year left on his current deal. Whereas Aubameyang penned fresh terms last year to a lucrative new three-year deal.
But that doesn’t mean that things cannot take a unique, unexpected turn. Despite Aubameyang being shifted to the center forward position in the second half of the last campaign, it was Lacazette who suited to what Mikel Arteta was trying to ask from his center forward.
Pressing from the front, dropping back, holding up the ball, linking up the play and even defensive duties were the qualities where the Frenchman has always had an upper hand against Aubameyang.
Either way, this shld be Laca & Auba's last season at the club.
I don't see Auba continuing as a starter in 2022/23, and I don't think he'd like to stick around on the bench.
I don't know how AFC get £250k a week off the books though. Heck, we struggle to shift players on less..
— Gilles 🇳🇬🇬🇧 (@GrimandiTweetss) August 9, 2021
The stats completely back it. Lacazette’s figures of Passes into Final Third / Through Balls / Tackles Won/ Successful Pressures % / Fouls Drawn were all at an impressive 1.12/0.19/0.89/32.5%/3.18 and were better than Aubameyang’s 19/20 (when he was an unstoppable force) figures of 0.77/0.03/0.69/22.7%/0.66.
I, for one, am not someone who is manifesting that Lacazette is better than Aubameyang. Although the former Dortmund man is a more lethal finisher, it is Lacazette who improves the rest of the squad players, especially Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who thrive when they have a target that bounces back the ball, to play cute little passes at the center of the pitch.
Arsenal’s goal against West Bromwich Albion in January was the best example.
Vs West Brom
Our very own star boy @BukayoSaka87 finishes off a superb move. A move similiar to the reasons why we fell in love with @arsenal in the first place ! @emilesmithrowe 🌟 #Arsenal #Saka #AFC pic.twitter.com/T4ECMjiWQR
— THE ARSENAL (@ArsenalGoals49) January 7, 2021
These are the plays that the opposition dread, and the Gunners faithful only get to see it when Lacazette leads the line.
But the Aubameyang OR Lacazette conundrum is a problem that Arsenal should never have encountered. The North London outfit broke their transfer record two times in less than 6 months on two players who clearly don’t fit well together.
If the club had researched properly, they certainly would have unearthed the current problem much earlier and could have averted it.
So, should Arsenal extend the contract of Lacazette and sell Aubameyang instead? I think that’s only for a heavenly creature to decide…