Though his brilliance is freely recognised, it’s possible not enough is made of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s time in England.
The Gabon international’s brace against Everton brought him within a quick single of a half-century of Premier League goals.
And his scoring rate has been more Rohit Sharma than Rahul Dravid.
Aubameyang’s 48th and 49th goals came in his 74th game, meaning he averages 0.66 goals per game in England’s top flight.
By way of a comparison, here’s a selection of celebrated forwards with inferior strike rates: Robin van Persie (0.51), Didier Drogba (0.41), Mohamed Salah (0.64), Alan Shearer (0.59), Ruud van Nistelrooy (0.63), Wayne Rooney (0.42).
Minutes-per-goal allows for a more accurate representation of a striker’s returns.
This metric flatters Auabmeyang too, as only Thierry Henry, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero have better ratios in the history of the Premier League.
He’s currently averaging a goal every 123 minutes, just one minute worse off than that of the legendary Frenchman whose number he wears on his back.
Aubameyang’s first goal against the Toffees was perhaps his most uncanny Henry impersonation yet; he opened up his body to stroke the ball just inside the far post after running in behind the defence from the left flank in a manner that urged onlookers of a certain age to exclaim: Va Va Voom!
The former Borussia Dortmund forward deserves extra credit because his tenure at Arsenal has coincided with the club’s worse league seasons since the mid-1990s.
From the turbulent last days of Arsene Wenger to the embryonic stages of Mikel Arteta’s reign, via the disorganised nothingness of Unai Emery, he has largely played in teams operating below full capacity.
Despite this, he’s already claimed one Golden Boot (shared with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah) and is now level with Jamie Vardy on 17 goals in the joint-lead for this season’s award.
It’s easy to say such statistics are to be expected of a £56million forward representing a club of Arsenal’s global reputation, but we must take the Gunners’ modern history into account.
They finished 6th in Aubameyang’s first (half) season, 5th in his second season, and have spent the majority of the current campaign in the mid-table mix-up.
He has not been blessed with a surrounding environment of persistent dominance in the manner of, say, Aguero or Salah.
You could also argue Aubameyang has frequently been played out of position.
The 30-year-old’s performances from the left have mostly been electric but a case can be made that centre-forward is his most natural role.
Much is made of his speed but his strongest attributes are his opportunism and predatory instincts.
He cultivated a reputation as a tap-in merchant at Dortmund – similar to Raheem Sterling under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage – and such comments were intended to be complimentary.
Scoring a noticeable volume of tap-ins requires world-class movement, anticipation and awareness.
Aubameyang is capable of scoring various types of goals but some will always wonder if Arsenal are missing out on half a dozen ‘freebies’ by not playing him central.
At the risk of lavishing excess praise, we must also consider how quickly he adapted to English football.
After signing on deadline day of January 2018, he scored ten goals in 13 league games in the second half of the season.
Fans would have understood if he used those months to adjust to the self-styled ‘best league in the world’ but instead he made an instant impact at a time when the club were undermined by several tensions.
He arrived as a 28-year-old (he’s 28 until he’s 29) with an impressive scoring record but there are numerous cases of players with similar credentials failing to adjust, Gonzalo Higuain being a recent example.
Aubameyang’s numbers are excellent without context but when you consider the intangible factors, they appear even more impressive.
If he scores a goal in his next eight league games, he’ll reach 50 Premier League goals quicker than Henry, as if the fans needed any more proof of his worth.
With Arteta hopeful of unlocking Arsenal’s potential, persuading Aubameyang that the Emirates will soon host Champions League football must be a priority.
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