The main thing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will bring to Arsenal is goals. To put it simply, he is an outright goalscorer – his stats prove that.
He will also provide pace. He loves to get in behind defenders, which he showed in his first game for the club against Everton. On top of that, he is also capable of adjusting to different styles of play. But his primary attribute is his instinct for goals – he doesn’t need many chances in order to score. His speed and directness are a threat to defenders, and this is something the Gunners have missed for a long time now. Since Thierry Henry left, Arsenal haven’t had a striker like this.
It’s no surprise that he played well on debut. He and Arsenal are suited to each other.
But a major issue will be what happens with Alex Lacazette. If you play with one up front, Laca will have to fight for his position week in, week out. He may need more time to adjust to the Premier League, but after six months at the Emirates his statistics are not exactly tremendous. Auba is just the man Arsenal need in order to stretch defences, which us not something that Lacazette does.
Wenger has been frustrated with the lack of goals from the Frenchman. I think he would have been expecting a much greater return. Arsenal need someone who can get on the scoresheet with regularity, and who can do so with limited opportunities. It’s normal at a big club that you have to fight for your place constantly, which is exactly what Wenger said recently about Lacazette – the coach seems to be putting the pressure on his former record signing.
As for Olivier Giroud, who departed as a direct result of Auba signing, I think he made the decision to leave himself. He knows that if he wants to go to the World Cup, he needs to play regularly. He spoke with Didier Deschamps over the phone, who told him as much – the France coach will likely only select players who are starting nearly every week. I’m certain it was a tough decision for Giroud to make – he really seems to love Arsenal – but that’s the way it is. In football, things move quickly and you need to adapt.
The North London Derby
Arsenal are one of the best teams in the league at home. But when you look at their away record, it’s not impressive in the slightest: they have only won three games all season on the road. This is not good enough, and their away form needs to improve drastically.
But it will be very tough against Spurs. Tottenham are strong in every area: defence, midfield and attack. I am interested to see how Arsenal will deal with this – leaving aside the fact it’s a big derby, Pochettino’s side always bring physical and mental toughness. If Arsenal can match those attributes, they have a chance.
For Spurs, Lucas Moura will bring added pace. He played for five or so years at PSG, but didn’t improve a lot in that time. He is a very nice guy, and very professional. He doesn’t cause trouble, and always gives his best.
Tottenham will suit his mentality, as will their style of play. Spurs are full of imaginative, creative players, and they want to move the ball quickly. But Moura needs to score more goals and make more assists – a lack of these things is probably what cost him his place in the PSG side. If he can forge a partnership with Serge Aurier, with whom he also played in Paris, that could be a very dangerous combination on the right.
I said in a previous column that Arsenal needed a holding midfielder and another defender, and they still do. They are conceding too many goals, and stupid ones at that: against Swansea, when they lost 3-1, some of the defensive play was ridiculous. They need commitment; players who hate to lose games. People were excited about how they played against Everton, but they need to do that every time, starting on Saturday.
I’m not pointing fingers at the keeper or individual defenders: it’s everyone. And now they’re up against Harry Kane, who always scores against Arsenal. The Gunners need fighters on the pitch, and they should take a look at the Spurs defence for an example of that. The Spurs back three or four don’t let strikers breathe; they are aggressive. That’s what Arsenal need.