Unai Emery’s first season in charge of Arsenal is coming to a close. The verdict? It was always going to be a strange one, following on from 22 years under Arsène Wenger, which brought three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups but ultimately ended in mediocrity and a sixth-place finish.
While Emery wasn’t left with a title-winning team or anything resembling the 2004 Invincibles, he did inherit two of the league’s most sought-after strikers – Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Despite a lot of Arsenal fans’ wishes, however, the two strikers haven’t had the chance to form the formidable partnership they could be capable of…
Two record signings
There’s a saying about buses. You wait ages for one, then two come along at once. The same can be said for Arsenal’s big money signings. After signing Mesut Özil in 2013, Gunners fans had quite the wait before their club broke their record transfer fee again. That’s even harder to take when the likes of Manchester City and United are repeatedly outdoing themselves in terms of splashing the cash.
That all changed, however, in the 2017 summer transfer window, when Wenger brought in Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon for an initial fee of £46 million. Just half a season later, that transfer record was smashed, when Arsenal signed 16-17 Bundesliga top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Two sought-after, world class strikers in one team. Surely, the first names on the team sheet, right? Wrong…
Hit and miss
Since Emery’s arrival in the summer of 2018, the pairing of Aubameyang and Lacazette in the starting line-up has been a little bit hit and miss. In the first 32 league games of the season, the stats are split down the middle. Aubameyang and Lacazette started 16 games together, with Aubameyang starting 9 without Lacazette, and Lacazette starting 7 without Aubameyang.
In the games where they both start, Arsenal’s win ratio is 62.5%. When only one starts, that drops to 56%. While that doesn’t seem like a massive difference, it means winning another 6.5% of games. Over the course of a 38-game season, that’s an extra 2 or 3 wins – enough to push a team on the verge of Europe up into the top four.
More specifically, an extra six or even nine points could solidify Arsenal’s top four spot in the current Premier League table, with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United all available at similar odds to make the cut (https://www.redbet.com/en/sports/home).
Pushing Arsenal towards the top
It’s not just about points and win-ratios. At the most basic level, having two top goal-scorers playing together could put Arsenal up there with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. All of the top teams in the Premier League have two prolific players in their starting line-up.
For Man City, it’s Aguero and Sterling. For Spurs it’s Kane and Son. Liverpool are fortunate enough to have Salah, Mané and Firmino. All of these players have put away at least 12 goals in 2018-19 – and they all start for their teams week in, week out (fitness permitting).
It’s not rocket science. Having multiple goal threats means the opposition can’t simply mark one player out of the game. However, in the same season, Aubameyang has bagged and impressive 18 goals, while Lacazette has put away 13, but Emery continues to rotate the two.
If Arsenal are to pose a real threat to the fellow Premier League big boys next season, it’s surely time to make the most of their key strikers.