Auba has been clutch, but can his goals bring CL football back to the Emirates?
The Gabonese captain was once again in on the act at the Emirates as Arsenal exited the FA Cup fourth round at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United. The Arsenal started off brightly, taking the game to the visitors but injuries on centre back pair, Sokratis and Koscielny proved detrimental to their winning efforts as Lukaku grew wings on the left-hand side of the United front three. The latter setting up two goals for Sanchez and Lingard in just two minutes. Arsenal’s top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back before half time after Nigerian international, Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey combined beautifully on the left-flank to set up, yet another tap in for the marksman. The game eventually ended 3-1 in favor of the Red Devils but a familiar feeling at the Emirates stadium bracketed the night. Even with one of the world’s inform strikers in Aubameyang, a meticulous Head Coach in Unai Emery with a proven track record of winning trophies and notable top quality players in their squad, its difficult to separate the “new Arsenal” with that which was presided over by Arsene Wenger over the past 22 years.
The player(s) they have always needed
Since Robin Van Persie, the London club had always been in search of a top quality striker to provide the goals and names such as Olivier Giroud, Yaya Sanogo, Nicklas Bendtner and Danny Welbeck auditioned for the role with little success. The arrival of Alexandre Lacazette in the summer of 201, further cemented by that of the African star, Aubameyang, completely obliterated the striker issue. In fact, the latter became an instant hit breaking some notable records for the club such as being on course to become the fastest player to reach 25 Premier League goals for the club, even ahead of legends such as Thierry Henry and Ian Wright. The 2015 African Player Of The Year also became the first Arsenal player to score on every day of the week coupled by his notable habit of scoring on competition debuts as he did against United in the Emirates FA Cup. Arsenal have in fact seldom struggled with scoring goals this campaign as they currently have the sixth most goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues, even ahead of the likes of high flying Dortmund, Liverpool or Bayern Munich. The club’s website actually labelled the Gabonese a man for all seasons (and days) as the club continues to falter between the lines of rejuvenation and stagnation. Seemingly, even the pair of Premier League’s second top goal scorer and the Uruguayan international, Lucas Torreira (“the defensive midfielder they have always needed”), are just not enough for the Gunners.
The “perfect” manager
As Arsene Wenger’s time drew to a close at Arsenal, there was an increasingly growing unrest with the bulk of the fan base criticising the French man for being too laid back, non-adventurous and stingy to spend on transfers. In Emery, Arsenal got a “perfect” replacement for the resigned Wenger. The guy who won three consecutive Europa League trophies with Sevilla, five cups with PSG in two years and oversaw the development of players such as David Silva, David Villa and Ever Banega. Emery became that demanding Coach who pacies the touchline for the whole ninety, shouting instructions and unafraid to drop big names such as Mesut Ozil from the matchday squad. It’s undeniable that there has been some progress since the arrival of the Spaniard but the new Arsenal still has resemblances of the old, marked by frequent defensive catastrophes that saw them ship in 5 goals at Liverpool, painfully hit on the counter as with United on Friday or huffing and puffing at goal as was the case in their 1-0 loss to West Ham United. After being knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup, Carabao Cup, playing in the Europa League and lying 5th on the Premier League table, almost the same position and points they had last campaign after 20 matches with Arsene Wenger - you would understand one who confuses Emery’s Arsenal with that of Wenger.
What’s really the issue then?
It’s almost unrealistic to cover all that is going on at Arsenal in this piece but a few events that we have noticed in recent times do give hints and leave everything to one’s own judgment. The highly rated head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat who worked with Dortmund and helped bring in Aubameyang, Matteo Guendouzi, Torreira and Mkhitaryan left the club, just a little over a year after joining it, leaving more questions than answers into the Arsenal situation. Former Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis who presided over the Wenger regime also left the club after ushering in “a new era” for the club when he brought in Unai Emery in the May of 2018 and so did co-owner Alisher Usmanov who sold his stake to the sole ownership of unpopular multiple sports business tycoon, Stan Kroenke. The general feeling amongst the Arsenal fans worldwide is that Kroenke is taking them for a ride by investing less than required into the development of the club. Just recently, we learnt that Arsenal were not going to buy any players in the January transfer window but would seek loans which may be difficult to understand when done by the ninth richest football club in the world as of 2019.
What do you think it’s going to take for the Gunners to start shooting again, unhindered?