Top-class poachers like to be clinical with every touch, flaunting an uncommon knack for being at the right place at the right time. They bury all kind of opportunities: headers, tap-ins, follow-ups, long-range volleys, set pieces with either foot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is showing such exceptional traits at Arsenal.
Aubameyang has always been a lethal finisher. He is among an elite club of strikers with an impressive goal ratio in three of Europe’s biggest leagues.
In the Ligue 1, he found the net 35 times in just 73 appearances across two years for Saint-Etienne. A little above four years at Dortmund yielded 98 fruits in 144 Bundesliga appearances. Still, there were doubts whether he would cut in the Premier League.
After all, the Gabonese grappled during his infant years. Aubameyang began his senior career in 2008 at AC Milan. However, he never appeared for the first team and was instead loaned out multiple times to Ligue 1 clubs. The 29-year-old was something of a wanderer. He toured four different cities in two countries in only three years. Impressive.
Many sceptics forecasted similar fate in North London. They believed the 29-year-old was going to be another of Arsene Wenger’s failed experiment. Joining the likes of Eduardo da Silva, Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor. His mighty £56 million record outlay didn’t help matters. Aubameyang, though, was focussed to provide answers on the pitch.
He arrived at a time the Gunners were striving. Alexandre Lacazette, in particular, was enduring a difficult patch in front of goal. The Frenchman was a pathetic run of almost 10 Premier League games without scoring, over 600 minutes if you use the calculator. For Wenger, it was win or bust with the Gabonese.
Blessed with searing pace and agility, with the strength and power to match, Aubameyang is your archetypal pointman. While speed is his greatest asset, at 6ft 2in he also utilises his standing impressively in recent years. Prior to his exit, no Bundesliga player hit more headed goals (10) since the start of the 2015/16 season. He is almost a mix between Lacazette and Olivier Giroud.
Aubameyang adapted swiftly to his new abode. He was as clinical as you get, providing the Gunners with cutting edge in the final third – something they’ve lacked in ages. He ended the campaign with an impressive 10 goals and four assists in 13 Premier League games.
Although he’s been forced out wide occasionally this term, Aubameyang’s influence has surged. It is true he doesn’t always see a ton of chances in every game, but when they do come, he puts them away. He proved this against Bournemouth last weekend. An anonymous figure for the most of the game, the 29-year-old showed up at the most important time to bury Saed Kolasinac’s fine cross.
Aubameyang is now tied for first in scoring in the Premier League with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, netting eight times in just 13 appearances. The former Dortmund star is emerging as a clinical finisher in England and will be a vital reason Arsenal finish in the top four.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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