How Arsene Wenger can fit Aubameyang into Arsenal
Wenger’s press conference earlier today revealed new signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang might not make his Premier League bow this weekend against Everton due to illness. The Gabonese was brought in from Borussia Dortmund for a £55 million fee and represents a smart deal for the Gunners who lost Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United.
Aubameyang brings in stated quality; he won the Torjägerkanone, the award for the top scorer in the Bundesliga last season with 31 goals and has 21 goals in 24 matches already this season.
But fitting the PEA into the Arsenal pod could bring a fair bit of head scratching and puzzle solving for Arsene Wenger because the other options the manager has at his disposal. Over the summer, Alexandre Lacazette joined Arsenal for £46.5 million to end Arsenals striking problems but six months afterwards the hotshot striker Aubameyang has joined the Gunners. Taking Alex Iwobi, who has gotten improved game time and stats, off the starting lineup will not be too hard though. The Nigerian still has not impressed enough to stake a claim in the lineup especially after the team has been bolstered with quality signings. Iwobi’s time on the pitch will be elongated with the arrival of the Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the winter transfer window.
The reenactment of the free-scoring Dortmund double act certainly was in the heart of the Arsenal management when the deal for the Gabonese forward was mooted. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played with Aubameyang at Dortmund for three years before he joined Manchester United. The Armenian joined Arsenal in a swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez going in the opposite direction.
With Mesut Ozil signing a new deal and committing his future to Arsenal, the link up in the Arsenal forward line serves up a mouthwatering prospect. But how do they all fit?
While Aubameyang’s blistering speed could lead to the idea of playing him on the wings, his goal ratio and effectiveness in front of goal simply put him as the go-to central striker for the Gunners. It could signal the beginning of life on the wings for Lacazette. The former Lyon forward in his younger days played on the wings and in certain games when Olivier Giroud came on, he was shunted to an inside forward role, playing off the central striker. Mkhitaryan fills the other wing while Ozil is the grand schemer playing in the hole.
Having the creative qualities of Mkhitaryan and Ozil behind a potent striker in Aubameyang represents a dream come true for Arsene Wenger. With both schemers fluidly combining to provide quality service for the Gabonese, Arsenal’s attacking outlook seems to be much improved. With this shape, Lacazette misses out, while the midfield comprises of Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey.
A possible pairing of Aubameyang and Lacazette could be devastating for defences and is certain to produce goals with Mkhitaryan and Ozil filling out on the wings. The only drawback will be the lack of a sturdy enough central spine to shield the defence. Xhaka alongside Mohamed Elneny will be the best set of legs Wenger can put forward to protect the defence despite the obvious shortfalls of the pair especially on the defensive front.
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