FT Sideline: Why has Aubameyang been so prolific?
There is no use trying to make a case why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the best strikers in the world, simply because everyone knows and vehemently agree. It’s a better use of time exploring what makes him tick, with the hope that such attributes can be learned and passed down to future generations of African and global strikers at large.
It is know that modern strikers usually go through what is famously knowns as a “goal drought,” September used to be a boogey month for Harry Kane, Suarez is relatively going through a drought right now at Barcelona despite the impressive overall performances, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and the list goes on and on. The point is that the barren periods are almost part and parcel of a striker’s package. But, that’s not Aubameyang. The Gabonese captain has been scoring at least 30 goals a season since 2015 at Borussia Dortmund and before that, as a developing footballer in France and other places, he would hit at least half of the thirty goals. He was never an out and out striker to begin with, he just recently developed this goal scoring wit and has never looked back. But why is he immune to the droughts? Why is he so prolific?
Here are two simple reasons why:
1. Simplicity, the ultimate sophistication
It’s modern “wisdom” that a good striker should contribute to overall play of the team, tracking back to help with defensive duties on set pieces, holding up play, taking on defenders, laying up assists for teammates and many other things. Harry Kane is increasingly becoming a member of this bracket after criticism of “selfishness,” Alexandre Lacazette is Arsenal’s version of that “modern striker” and Suarez is not a stranger to such duties at Barcelona. Now, Auba is different. The 29 year-old knows how to score goals and fundamentally sticks to that. His dribbling game is not the best nor is his hold-up play. He usually goes “missing” when his team is on the ropes but at any moment, with the slightest of chances - he can ripple the net. The African striker’s winner over the weekend which bagged all three points for Arsenal resembles this attribute of coming out of nowhere to turn the tide in the favor of his colors. Joking with his teammate, Sead Kolasinac who was the assist provider on the day, Auba even posted on instagram about how he loves tap in goals. He is the kind of guy who does not clutter his game with a lot of “best practices” or “modern tactics” but does one thing well enough to dominate the rest. No wonder he is currently joint-top scorer with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in the Premier League tied at 8 goals for the campaign. It’s this “one dimensional” play that has enabled him to reach 20 goals in 31 matches for the Gunners, quicker than the time Thierry Henry or legend Ian Wright took.
2. Lightning pace
Lightning and Auba usually go in the same sentence because he is that quick. EA Sports didn’t rate him the fastest play on FIFA 18 for no reason. It is this pace that aids him to latch on crosses the quickest and make a meal of no ingredients at all. Those tap in goes and numerous strikes inside the box, it’s never because defenders do not know what he will probably do, they just can’t catch him.
Conclusively, Arsenal look like they are more than sorted in their attack with Lacazette complimenting the Gabonese in numerous ways. They will however need to continuously learn to play to his strengths if they are going to get the most out of the Gabonese international.