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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Importance to Arsenal

 

As the Gabonese international closes in on the milestone of 50 Premier League goals, Mikel Arteta will be hoping his talismanic striker can fire the Gunners back into the Champions League – and potentially prolong his stay in north London.

 

By: Tom Ede

Where there is football to be played, there are transfer rumours to be gossiped about. And with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal contract up for discussion, the Gabonese forward is never far away from the headlines regarding his future at the club.

Given Aubameyang’s pedigree, and with the north London side holding the record for most consecutive Champions League campaigns played in for an English club (19 between 1998/99 and 2016/17), it’s strange to think that he’s never played in the competition with the Gunners. Another failure to qualify for the tournament this season could see the forward make an exit. Here, we take a look at some of the numbers that have made him so important to Arsenal, and a potential transfer target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Premier League Prowess

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his debut for Arsenal on February 3rd 2018, scoring in a 5-1 victory against Everton. Since his goalscoring debut, he’s netted 49 Premier League goals, with only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah netting more in the competition in that time.

Premier League goals since Feb 2018

Aubameyang has scored those 49 goals in just 75 appearances in the competition, meaning if he scores in one of his next five games he’ll be the sixth fastest player to reach a half-century in Premier League history – a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact he’s yet to score a hat-trick in the competition.

Fastest to 50 premier league goals

Aubameyang in 2019/20

Before the suspension of the 2019/20 Premier League season, Aubameyang sat second in the goalscoring charts with 17 Premier League goals, behind only Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (19). His 17 goals have accounted for 43% of Arsenal’s league goals so far this season, with only Teemu Pukki scoring a higher share for his side.

Highest % of Team's Goals - Premier League 2019/20

TeamPlayerGoalsTeam Goals%
Norwich CityTeemu Pukki112544%
SouthamptonDanny Ings153543%
ArsenalPierre-Emerick Aubameyang174043%
EvertonDominic Calvert-Lewin133735%
Leicester CityJamie Vardy195833%

But it hasn’t just been the volume of goals – his strikes have been important in Arsenal picking up results this season. It’s no secret that by their high standards the Gunners have struggled this term, and many of their positive results have been due to Aubameyang. Only Liverpool’s front three have scored more winning goals this campaign, while only Sadio Mane’s goals have been worth more points.

Value of aubameyang's Arsenal goals

Click to enlarge

The above tables are particularly impressive given that the Gunners have won just nine games, and as only three of those have been by a margin of more than one goal, it adds an extra importance to those Aubameyang strikes.

Another way to look at Aubameyang’s importance in the Premier League this season is his expected goals (xG) tally. Excluding penalties, based on the quality of his chances this season, his xG total is just 9.6, but his actual goals total (excluding penalties) is 16, giving him the best such difference in the league this term.

Highest xG Differential Premier League 2019/20

PlayerxG (Excl. pens)Goals (Excl. Pens)Difference
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang9.6166.4
Jamie Vardy10.3154.7
Harry Wilson3.173.9
Danny Ings11.4153.6
Jonjo Shelvey1.453.6
Harry Kane5.693.4

Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang-Shots-2019-20

While it is hard to know how much of this overperformance is attributed to luck, and how much is down to quality finishing, Arsenal fans would undoubtedly tell you it’s the latter.

One thing Arsenal have certainly got in Aubameyang is an ‘out-and-out goalscorer’. Using another advanced metric – direct goal involvements – we can see that only Danny Ings has scored more such goals in the Premier League this season. A direct goal involvement is defined as the number of unique goal-ending sequences in open play where the player’s only involvement was that they scored the goal.

Premier League 2019/20 Direct Goal Involvements

A ruthless striker is something Arsenal have certainly missed since Robin van Persie left in 2012. However, with the goalscoring burden firmly placed on Aubameyang’s shoulders, it remains to be seen whether Arsenal would benefit more from a striker more involved with build-up play such as Alexandre Lacazette or Olivier Giroud.

A Blossoming Partnership With Lacazette 

Since his arrival, Aubameyang and French strike partner, Lacazette have formed something of a love affair. In 35 games started together, the pair have a combined 35 Premier League goals, with the African netting 22 of these. They’ve also assisted each other 10 times in the league since February 2018, with only two duos combining for more goals in that time.

Premier League top goalscoring combinations

50 Goals in All Competitions

Against Wolves in November 2019, Aubameyang became the 51st player in Arsenal’s history to score 50 goals in all competitions for the club. In just 78 games, he was the joint-seventh quickest to do so, the fastest since Ian Wright in 1993 and faster than club legend and all-time top scorer Thierry Henry.

Player50th Goal GameYear
Ted Drake521935
Joe Baker601963
Ronnie Rooke641948
Ian Wright681993
Reg Lewis741948
Cliff Holton771953
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang782019
Jimmy Brain781926

A Month of Sundays 

In 2018/19, Aubameyang became the first player in Arsenal’s history to score on all seven days of the week within a single season. However, his favourite day is Sunday.

Aubameyang Day Of Premier League goals

Premier League All-Time - % Goals on Sundays

PlayerSunday GoalsTotal Goals%
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang324965%
Michael Bridges122255%
Georginio Wijnaldum122450%
Roman Pavlyuchenko102050%
Philippe Coutinho204149%

Given that Arsenal have been playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League since Aubameyang arrived at the club, the Gunners have been playing a lot more of their league games on Sunday. The Arsenal striker has scored more Premier League goals on Sundays than he has on any other day of the week combined, while of all players to have scored at least 20 Premier League goals in the competition’s history, Aubameyang has netted the highest % on Sunday.

London Derby Performances

Whether Aubameyang stays or goes, his club should benefit from his prowess in local derby matches. In the Premier League, the Arsenal star has been involved in 15 goals in 18 London derbies (11 goals, 4 assists), scoring against all five London clubs he’s faced.

Aubemeyang in Premier League London Derbies

OpponentGames PlayedGoalsAssists
Total18114
West Ham United512
Crystal Palace430
Tottenham Hotspur431
Chelsea310
Fulham231

Mikel Arteta will be desperate to keep his talismanic striker at the Emirates given his importance to the team. However, with only a year left on his contract at Arsenal and with the club’s inability to promise UEFA Champions League football, the Gunners’ boss may be forced to cash in on his star forward while he has the chance.

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