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Arsenal's blueprint to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the team he deserves

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Arsenal have had greater strikers than Aubameyang, though not many. They have seen greater seasons in terms of pure performance, though again you can count very few of them and most come from the years 1998 to 2004.

But in recent memory no player at this club has borne a greater load on his shoulders over the course of a season than that which Aubameyang has over the past 12 months. Four goals from No.14 have carried Arsenal to FA Cup number 14.

Of Arsenal's 56 top flight goals 22 came from Aubameyang's boot with a further two laid on by the player who has transformed himself into more than just an attacking focal point. For a time he looked destined to beat Ian Wright for the highest proportion of Premier League goals scored by a Gunners striker over a season, perhaps the only record he doesn't want to claim after this exceptional season.

It is worth noting the context in which he has put together a season of value certainly with few comparisons since Arsene Wenger's appointment. This has been as gruelling a campaign as Arsenal have endured even discounting the three month extension coronavirus forced on the campaign.

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Leadership was thrust on Aubameyang after Laurent Koscielny's rebellion and Granit Xhaka's moment of madness. For a time in the final days of Unai Emery's reign and the interregnum it seemed to weigh him down.

As draw upon defeat upon draw built pressure on him he began to lose his cool, notably bemoaning the English media in has native French tongue after the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in early January. Aubameyang had arrived in north London a charming, gregarious figure, a far cry from the diva he had been portrayed as on his departure from Borussia Dortmund.

For a time he became that spiky figure as he grew ever more frustrated with questions over his future. It is right that they were asked - Arsenal fans want an answer - but equally Aubameyang has done nothing to prompt anyone to question his commitment to this club.

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He even seemed to bristle when the question was inevitably put to him post-match. "Nothing" was what he would offer, telling fans to focus on "just today and the trophy. That's it!"

It is easy to sympathise with the bind he finds himself in. He is a player who deserves to play on the biggest stages, ones that even after winning the FA Cup are not yet available to him as he enters what could be his final years at his peak.

Yet as football.london has consistently reported, Aubameyang is very happy in London and with Arsenal. He relishes the responsibility and is admired by many across the club, particularly the youngsters that he made a deliberate attempt to take under his wing over a year ago as this never-ending season began.

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In the frivolity of the celebrations it was telling that Bukayo Saka and some of his fellow academy graduates were getting Aubameyang to pose with GOAT emojis, that Tyreece John-Jules was tweeting his admiration for the club captain. He has made the dressing room a welcoming place for youngsters entering it at a trying time in Arsenal's history.

That is one method of leadership. Aubameyang has shown many more, beyond even the simply remorseless goalscoring in all competitions.

Mikel Arteta wanted his Arsenal side to suffer together, to subsume their egos and individual needs for the good of the team. Few did so quite like Aubameyang in the second half of this season, which he spent patrolling the left flank, chasing overlapping full-backs and dropping deep to aid the defensive effort.

In that time his Premier League goal rate went from 0.59 per 90 minutes to 0.57, evidence that he did not sacrifice his qualities to add new facets to his game.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mikel Arteta celebrate winning the 2020 FA Cup final. (Image: Photo by CATHERINE IVILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It is little wonder that Arteta did not stint in reminding Aubameyang, through his post-match press conference, of the esteem in which he is held in north London.

"We all respect him, we admire him," he said. "We know the players we have and we have to value him. If we reach all of those points I think we'll get an agreement."

Arteta is promising to build his team around Aubameyang. It is no less than he deserves. After a season of doing so much to cover the weaknesses of those around him, Arsenal's captain has earned the right to play in a team that is designed to exploit his strengths.




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