Don’t let the stats fool you: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had an average season in front of goal last year.
His tally of 31 strikes should not go unappreciated, for he became the first Gunner to reach such figures since Robin Van Persie back in 2012.
But looking deeper into his campaign, Aubameyang may have eclipsed the Dutchman’s 37-goal haul by some way had he managed to develop any kind of consistency during the campaign.
The numbers are impressive, but taking a closer look at where and when the Gabon striker popped up with the goods, his season-ending totals belie his overall contribution to Arsenal‘s cause throughout the previous season.
By scoring in just five more matches in all competitions than forward partner Alexandre Lacazette – despite netting a further 12 times than the Frenchman – the situation with Arsenal’s financial power in this transfer window and the prospect of allowing Lacazette to take up sole responsibility for goal-getting could leave the Golden Boot winner fighting the manager’s temptation to cash in on his top goalscorer.
Aubameyang seemed to provide goals in bulk – with over half of his goals (17 of 31) coming in games in which he had already scored. While his liking for a brace – or the odd hat-trick – ensured Arsenal a 100% win-rate when he delivered such feats, the inability to spread his goalscoring talent more economically throughout the season meant he fired more blanks than you may otherwise expect from a 31-goal striker.
Whereas, Lacazette managed to boast a similar goal-involvement ratio to Aubameyang (every 104 minutes to Auba’s 99) despite only notching 19 himself last season, as he was the main provider for all his teammates in topping Arsenal’s assist chart in the last campaign.
But with Aubameyang rarely injured, it seems all the more gutting that his goal account was limited to what he ended up achieving with his apparent hit-or-miss performance level during the season.
While it would be a risk for Unai Emery to free Lacazette from the shackles of having to play provider for the hot-and-cold Aubameyang by selling the striker – it may be the key to unleashing the true potential of Arsenal’s No9 – who ended up as the fans’ player of the season despite a lesser contribution in front of goal.
It may be a case of needs must for The Gunners should financial restrictions continue, which puts pressure on 30-year-old Aubameyang to deliver even more next year – especially with recruitments likely to come in defensive areas this summer.
With The Gunners set to rely on their front two once again for goals next season, further failure to reach the Champions League may force Unai Emery’s hand should drastic measures be required in the following transfer window.
So while Aubameyang’s quality in front of goal is not up for debate, the details of his impressive goal tally still leave a lot to be desired – and he may end up paying the price with his Arsenal future on the line.