There shouldn’t be any doubt over the quality in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette possess, the stats throughout their careers speak for themselves.
With 481 career goals between them, they don’t need to prove anything. The pair have both enjoyed success wherever they’ve been, including north London.
However, there are now major doubts over whether they can help get the Gunners back to the big time. With Aubameyang now 32-years-old and Lacazette 30-years-old, the question is, can they really offer much more?
In addition to the above, Aubameyang’s form in pre-season has caused concern among the Arsenal fanbase, with the striker unable to get on the scoresheet in all six of Arsenal’s friendlies despite having several clear-cut chances.
The Gabon international is coming off the back of a disappointing season, having only managed to score 15 goals, that’s a big drop from the 29 goals he netted in 2019/2020.
In his defence, he has had several off-field issues to deal with over the last year, including being hospitalised with malaria only a few months ago.
Nevertheless, for someone who is usually so lethal in front of goal, it is only natural to worry about Aubameyang’s recent displays.
Meanwhile, with Lacazette, the problem isn’t so much his form, but more to do with his role within the squad and how it can hold his teammate back.
Since his arrival in 2019, manager Mikel Arteta has often preferred Lacazette as the main centre-forward, with Aubameyang out on the left.
Aubameyang and Lacazette are two different types of players, and although it is good to have a mixture of playing style to choose from, it can also leave the team unbalanced when both play at the same time.
Whilst Aubameyang is mainly known for his pace and clinical finishing, Lacazette’s main qualities are his hold-up play and the ability to create space for others.
For me, the time has come where it must ultimately be one or the other when Arteta picks his starting 11, not both.
It feels like Aubameyang is wasted when out wide, he struggles to get into games and isn’t someone who takes on his man. When you have the likes of Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli at your disposal, I can’t help but feel that they should be the only options for this position. They all have the necessary skillset and work rate to flourish as wingers, whereas Aubameyang doesn’t.
Speaking to the media over the last few years, the former Dortmund man has admitted that his preferred position is up front as the main forward.
“My favourite role is playing striker, in front,” said Aubameyang. “I also like playing on the wing, but I think my best position is striker.”
Moreover, Lacazette’s Premier League numbers aren’t the most convincing. Since arriving at the Emirates in 2017, he has failed to score more than 14 league goals during a season. For someone the club splashed £52million on, you would expect a lot more from him.
With only one year remaining on the Frenchman’s contract, now is the time for Arsenal to cash in and replace. However, as this transfer market has unfortunately shown, it isn’t as easy as that. With a big squad that includes players who are not in the manager’s plans, the lack of outgoings so far is worrying.
So, what exactly can Arteta do about his striker dilemma? I believe there are only two ways to go about it.
Firstly, play Aubameyang as the main centre-forward, where he will most likely rediscover his confidence in front of goal. This is where I see him at his best and most comfortable.
It is important to factor in that the club are on the lookout for more creative personnel before the transfer window shuts, as it is an area in which the squad lacks real quality. If that is addressed over the coming weeks, Aubameyang could benefit hugely.
The Arsenal captain loves to make runs in behind the opposition backline, his movement can cause lots of problems and his pace makes things even more difficult for defenders. Having someone like James Maddison in the side should he arrive, someone who carries great agility, vision and playmaking qualities, could be just what Aubameyang requires.
If Edu can offload Lacazette or possibly even Eddie Nketiah, another option would be to bring someone in who would perhaps offer something different in attack.
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is reportedly a name that the Arsenal hierarchy are discussing and is a player who could provide qualities that the current set of forwards lack.
Abraham would add more of an aerial threat to Arsenal’s attack, and with the lack of ability in the air, this would be a welcome addition. On many occasions last season, we saw Arsenal attempt lots of crosses or balls in from set-pieces, but they had nothing to show for it.
The 23-year-old is also someone who has good physical strength as well as being relatively quick. Capable of getting onto the end of crosses and winning long balls, Abraham would certainly be useful.
Whatever Arteta decides to do, he must look to rectify things swiftly with his side kicking off their Premier League campaign on Friday.
Arsenal desperately need goals, and if they cannot provide a sufficient number of them this season, I fear for not only the team but for the manager too. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but it may well be another long and painful season for all involved.
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Source by Football London