Arsenal

There can be only one winner in Arsenal’s striker battle

 • by Mark Thompson
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang picked up two goals and an assist in the north London derby but still didn’t think he was on top form.

“I think I’m not at 100 per cent, but it’s coming,” the striker said.
“It’s coming and against Spurs, I felt very good on the pitch. I’m really happy because my best form is coming.”

Unai Emery will be pleased to hear there’s more to come from the Gabonese striker; Alexandre Lacazette might not. The Spaniard played the pair up front against Huddersfield to little effect, as Martin Keown commented.

“They played with two strikers, Lacazette and Aubameyang and you think that would form a good partnership but not if you’ve not got the creativity in wide positions,” he said. “There was no one really looking for the ball.

“The two strikers were basically looking in on the game and not taking part and in the final third they couldn’t find the necessary passes.”

Aubameyang and Lacazette have been shifted around by their new manager all season, with a mixture of normal rotation and formation changes. However, it’s the former who seems the most effective.

The 29-year-old has an extraordinary concentration of shots around the six-yard box. This is powering an expected goals rate of 0.6 per 90 minutes, nearly 50 per cent better than his strike partner’s 0.41.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of his chances have come in the last couple of months, when he’s been starting centrally more often. Aubameyang has had ten shots in or on the edge of the six-yard box — two of these came in the two months before the October international break, eight afterwards.

In comparison, Lacazette’s shot map looks sparse in this area.

Emery is firmly behind Aubameyang, setting him the challenge of being the league’s top-scorer. It’ll be a tight contest. He’s currently level with Mohamed Salah on ten, with Harry Kane on nine and Sergio Agüero on eight (along with Raheem Sterling, Glenn Murray, Callum Wilson, and Richarlison).

The Arsenal striker’s performances through the middle have shown that he’s wasted playing on the left, as he did towards the start of the season to accommodate him and Lacazette in the same XI.

Coincidentally, Lacazette said that there was no competition between the pair just before Aubameyang started his hot run in the central striking role.

“If Auba scores 40 goals and we go to the Champions League and as well we win something, I will be happy because this season we just want to win something,” he said.

If Aubameyang keeps performing as he is doing, at the expense of Lacazette, then the Frenchman might be reconsidering his statement.

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