Unai Emery shown the way forward by Aubameyang & Lacazette
For decades, Arsenal Football Club has been built on attacking, stylish football. Arsene Wenger transformed the Premier League with his sheer genius coaching techniques, although his ideology became somewhat outdated as time went on. This summer saw a changing of the guard at The Emirates. Out with the old, in with the new, if you will...
Enter, Unai Emery. The Spaniard, fresh off recent success with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, was handed the keys to the North London kingdom. Big hopes, even greater expectations come from a fan-base who have been success-starved for so long. The fixture list wasn't kind to Arsenal, either. Tough games against Chelsea and Manchester City was the curtain-raiser. They exited, stage-left, rather abruptly. Leaving with no points two weeks into the campaign.
However, victories against both West Ham United and Cardiff City have steadied the ship. Suddenly, there's more optimism about the place despite the fact that the wins weren't all that convincing. There has been one huge glimmer of light, however. It doesn't come from the magical vision of Mesut Ozil, nor the defensive diligence of Laurent Koscielny. Instead, two players are sharing the goalscoring burden wonderfully well; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
A question was asked: Can the pair play together? The answer? In my opinion, an overwhelming yes.
The former joined Arsenal in January. We've seen glimpses. The man from Gabon is quick, a deadly finisher and possesses great movement. He needed help, though. Lacazette has been at The Emirates for a tad longer, he joined in July 2017. Striking 17 times in 39 outings, for a side that was struggling, is a decent debut season. He'll only improve.
As the statistics above show, their best performances come together; albeit from a small sample size. Who says two up front is dead? Heck, Leicester City did that remarkably well during their title-winning campaign, while Antonio Conte adopted the 5-3-2 system excellently just a year after. Now, it's Arsenal's turn to adapt and change.
It sounds cliche, but you tend to do your best work when having fun. That mantra also works on the football field. Aubameyang and Lacazette enjoy playing together. Quite frankly, it's refreshing watching them perform with a smile on their face. Sure, it was by no means a perfect display against Cardiff on Sunday, but Arsenal certainly looked deadly with their two-pronged attack.
The best thing about the pairing is that they're both interchangeable, multifunctional. Lacazette can come deep and collect the ball, before helping Arsenal move forward. Aubameyang can drift wide thanks to his electric speed. He too, isn't awful with the ball at his feet. He can play the right pass, then run right at the heart of the opposing defence.
As a tandem, two is obviously greater than one. It leaves the centre-backs picking up one striker each rather than two defenders per front-man. Gone are the days of isolation. Both are elite, they'll require equal attention. When one has an off-day, the other can cover his pals' backside. When both are playing at their brilliant best, goals will be fruitful against any defence.
Sure, this is just the start. The early signs look promising, there is a real connection. A cutting edge. Tougher tests are certainly to come, but if their relationship can become almost telepathic, I doubt we've seen a pairing this good in over a decade.