Arsenal would be in a relegation scrap without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals… despite his glaring miss in Europa League exit to Olympiacos, he is their modern day Thierry Henry and it’s imperative they hang on to him
- Aubameyang’s first goal against Everton had echoes of Thierry Henry’s finishes
- And the Gabon forward is now of equal importance to Arsenal as Henry was
- He has scored 17 Premier League goals this season – 45.6 per cent of their total
- Take away Aubameyang’s goals and Arsenal would be sitting second bottom
- Despite his shocking miss against Olympiacos on Thursday, he is still so crucial
- Amid interest from Inter Milan and Barcelona, they simply need him to stay
Blink while watching the first of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals against Everton last week and you could easily imagine yourself transported back to a time when Arsenal won trophies for fun.
Was it the ducking and diving to remain onside, the immaculate timing of the run behind a leaden-footed defender, or the lethal acceleration to storm clear?
Maybe it was the eye contact with the goalkeeper, the opening up of the body, the caressed finish into the far corner. Perhaps it was just the No 14 on the back of the shirt.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first goal against Everton last week drew comparisons with the way Thierry Henry used to score goals for Arsenal
Henry tucks away the ball with his trademark finish to score against Birmingham in 2004
Whatever, there was something distinctly Thierry Henry-esque about the finish and, while the Frenchman would have probably scored the guilt-edged chance Aubameyang missed in the defeat against Olympiacos on Thursday night, his importance to Arsenal and their prospects now is similar to Henry’s significance 15 years ago.
‘This is Thierry Henry, everything about it,’ purred Gary Neville while analysing the goal on Sky Sports.
Premier League top scorers 2019-2020
17 – Jamie Vardy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
16 – Sergio Aguero
15 – Mohamed Salah, Danny Ings
14 – Marcus Rashford
13 – Sadio Mane, Tammy Abraham
12 – Raul Jimenez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin
11 – Teemu Pukki, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling
‘As he went through on goal you just imagined the great French striker sprinting down on goal, setting it out to that far post and scoring.’
Henry’s numbers alone – 226 goals in 369 games during his seven-season main spell with Arsenal – tell you everything you need to know about his importance to Arsene Wenger’s successful side of that era.
The Frenchman’s goals helped Arsenal win two Premier League titles, go an entire season undefeated, twice lift the FA Cup and reach the 2006 Champions League final.
Aubameyang’s impact comes at a time of scant glory for Arsenal and their fans must dread to think of where they’d be at the moment without his goals.
Yes he missed a glorious chance to send Arsenal through to the Europa League last-16 but his importance to the Gunners is as vital as ever, as his sensational acrobatic kick proved on Thursday night.
Not only is the Gabon forward once again top of the Premier League scoring charts, level on 17 with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy after Sunday’s double, but his goals are invariably crucial.
Aubameyang now has 17 Premier League goals and hit a beauty in Europe on Thursday night
He was left devastated though after missing a chance to win their last-16 tie in extra time
Reflecting on the chance, Auabmeyang admitted to BT Sport he could not believe he missed
Aubameyang’s goals have won 16 points for the Gunners this season, the same number as Sadio Mane’s 13 goals have won for table-toppers Liverpool. There is nobody higher.
If you take away the 16 points Mane has won for Liverpool, they’d still be on course to win the title.
Take away Aubameyang’s goals for Arsenal and they’d be second bottom and staring relegation in the face.
It’s explained by the fact Aubameyang is responsible for 45.6 per cent of Arsenal’s 39 Premier League goals this season.
He sits on 17 league goals but the next highest is Alexandre Lacazette on six and Nicolas Pepe on four. Aubameyang could justifiably claim others need to pull their weight more.
Instead, Arsenal’s captain faithfully gets on with the task at hand. But you wonder if the picture will change in the summer should Arsenal not qualify for Europe next season.
Inter Milan and Barcelona have been linked with Aubameyang and it’s painfully evident that Arsenal must do everything everything within their power to persuade him to stay.
Mikel Arteta could have inherited a team in a relegation battle but for Aubameyang’s goals
Henry, an Arsenal club legend, was a master of opening his body to caress the ball into the net
Aubameyang scores for Arsenal against Crystal Palace last month – one of 17 league goals
The fact their performances and rewards have improved since Mikel Arteta’s appointment – they remain unbeaten since the New Year – will help their cause with a player whose contract expires after next season.
Minutes per goal in Premier League history
107 – Sergio Aguero
121 – Harry Kane
122 – Thierry Henry
123 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
124 – Mohamed Salah
126 – Gabriel Jesus
128 – Ruud van Nistelrooy
‘He completely deserves to be liked by all the other teams,’ Arteta said on Sunday. ‘Hopefully we can convince him that this is the right place for him and that he has a future here.
‘Hopefully not just the wins [will persuade him to stay] but what we are trying to do.’
Often forgotten is that Aubameyang is already 30 and has seemingly been in his pomp for five or six seasons now with Borussia Dortmund and then Arsenal.
If the Gunners miss out on the Champions League again and Inter or Barca come knocking, who could blame him for wanting to play on the biggest stage again before his powers fade?
At least if you took Henry out of the Invincibles side, there were plenty of other talented players to keep them winning. It wouldn’t be the same now.
Aubameyang shared the Premier League Golden Boot last season and could well win it again
Aubameyang has scored 49 goals in 74 Premier League appearances for the Gunners – nobody in the league has scored more since his arrival from Dortmund in January 2018.
Aubameyang’s Europa League record at Arsenal
That delivered him a share of the Golden Boot last season – with Liverpool’s Mane and Mohamed Salah – and likely the award outright this time.
And since he arrived in England, Aubameyang has scored on average every 123 minutes in the Premier League, the fourth best in the competition’s history. Eerily, Henry scored every 122 minutes for Arsenal.
He has also found the back of the net 11 times in 18 Europa League appearances for the Gunners.
So whether it’s the volume of goals he scores or the manner in which he takes them, Aubameyang has become Arsenal’s modern day Henry. It’s absolutely imperative they hang on to him.
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