Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s amazing stats since his arrival at Arsenal reveal his huge influence. Paul Harrison explains…
In the storm that surrounded Arsenal during 2018, the club’s £60m record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a quiet calm. His signing, on Deadline Day in last year’s January window, came with Arsenal eight points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea and may have seemed last-ditch as Arsene Wenger looked to fill the void left by the departing trio Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez.
It has proved an overwhelming success.
Ever since Aubameyang’s arrival, his impact since arriving in north London cannot be underestimated, even if at times it may feel slightly unsung.
Since scoring 37 minutes into his Arsenal debut, the Gabonese striker has scored 24 goals in 34 Premier League appearances – in the same period only Mohamed Salah (26) has scored more goals. Further afield, in Europe’s top five Leagues, the only other players to eclipse Aubameyang’s total are the usual suspects Cristiano Ronaldo (32) and Lionel Messi (30).
Arsenal fans often bemoaned the lack of a natural goalscorer to fire the ammunition provided under the guile of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Andrey Arshavin earlier this decade, yet the current supporting cast to the Premier League’s joint-top scorer this season do not necessarily play to his strengths.
With Mesut Ozil having started just two league games since mid-November, and Aaron Ramsey on the periphery ahead of his summer exit, the creative onus has fallen on Alex Iwobi, who has yet to register a single assist for Aubameyang in the Premier League.
During his time with Dortmund, the 2015 African Player of the Year registered 20 assists in 134 Bundesliga appearances but since coming to Arsenal, he has taken on some of the creative responsibility himself. The only forward who can boast more Premier League assists since Aubameyang’s debut is Salah.
In fact, Aubameyang has more goals and more assists in the top flight than both Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero since moving to England. To elevate his influence further, his 24 goals have directly contributed to 16 points – in the same period, Salah’s 26 league goals have directly contributed to only eight. This season alone, no player’s goals have been more valuable to their side than Aubameyang’s.
Arsenal make the short trip to London Stadium for Saturday lunchtime’s live game on Sky Sports Premier League, with Aubameyang one goal short of becoming the fifth fastest player to reach 25 Premier League goals, and the second non-Englishman to do so after Fernando Torres. What emphasises his achievement further is the age at which he is targeting the milestone in comparison to those who have done so faster.
Wenger’s final act in the transfer market for Arsenal was not just to break the club’s transfer record, it was also done in spite of everything he had previously worked towards following the move to Emirates Stadium in 2006. In signing a 28-year-old striker – their oldest since Davor Suker in 1999 – it can be viewed as either a quick-fix option as he fought to return to Europe’s elite competition, a resignation that his long-term development of younger players was flawed, or a simple acknowledgement that the qualities possessed by Aubameyang were just too good to refuse.
Unai Emery, who believes there is more to come from his talisman, is now reaping the rewards from a player who turns 30 in June – an age at which Wenger often deemed players surplus to requirements.