On Sunday, Arsenal retained their title as the only team in England’s top four divisions not to win a point away from home in 2018, suffering a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
But this actually marked a rare outing on the road in which the Gunners started the game well – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang whipping a first-time cross into the path of Alexandre Lacazette, who applied a clinical finish from close range.
And the Gabon international’s ability to impact out wide felt significant, especially as Arsene Wenger needs to find a way of getting him and Lacazette – the second-biggest signing in Arsenal’s history – into the same starting XI, while Danny Welbeck’s recent form has only further complicated the situation.
In short, Arsenal have three talented forwards, all of who can play wide left or centrally, enjoying decent form and expecting something close to a permanent spot in Wenger’s starting XI going forward.
While Aubameyang was no doubt purchased in January to become the goalscoring focal point of the Arsenal team, the performance on Sunday proved Wenger at the very least has options in attack through the former Dortmund star’s versatility – and in a league where big personalities have become the irritation of many, Aubameyang appeared surprisingly content with being the support act for the first time in his short Arsenal career. All of his previous appearances for the north Londoners have come as a centre-forward.
Indeed, the assist to Lacazette was one of two chances Aubameyang created against Newcastle and he also ranked second throughout the Gunners’ starting XI for completed dribbles. Defensively too, the 56-cap attacker put in a shift – his three interceptions were only bettered on the day by Newcastle’s midfield pairing of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame.
Of course, Aubameyang is cup-tied for the Europa League, the last competition Arsenal have left to play for this season. But his impact out wide does create an interesting dilemma for their next Premier League clash against West Ham on Sunday – should Aubameyang return to the tip of the attack, or stay out wide to afford Lacazette room in the same starting XI?
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