Tag Archives: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Goal Scoring – It’s an old mans game

Yesterday I discussed about how being the wrong side of 30 does not suddenly stop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by being a top class striker.

A look around the top scorers of Europe tells a story of the “old men of football” outperforming the youngsters:

The top two in England – 33-yeard-old Jamie Vardy and the eternal Sergio Aguero – are both older than Aubameyang – with the Arsenal striker 3rd on the list.

Over in Italy, Ciro Immobile tops the list – he turns 30 at the end of this month. Cristiano Ronaldo at 35 is 2nd, with Romelu Lukaku 3rd. At 26-years old he is one of the youngest on the long list.

La Liga is topped by Lionel Messi (32), Karim Benzema (32) and Luis Suarez (33). no other played has scored over 10 goals.

Germany bucks the trend; with 2 of the 3 top scorers being under 30 – although 31-year-old Robert Lewandowski still tops the charts. He is backed up by Timo Werner (23) and Jadon Sancho (19).

Of the 28 players to have scored over 10 goals in Europe’s top 4 leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A & Bundesliga), 12 are over 30 and just 5 under 24-years-old.

If Arsenal do decide to let Aubameyang (and Alexandre Lacazette) leave this summer, they have to be looking at bringing in a proven goal scorer. Not take a risk on someone from Portugal, Holland or France. The above list would be the starting point.

You would want the Aubameyang replacement to be no older than 27 years-old. That way Arsenal get least at 3 seasons out of him before we are in the same situation as we are now.

16 players are over 27-years old, leaving us just 12 players.

Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham are all playing for Premier League rivals. We can draw a line through them.

You can also remove Jadon Sancho as he is not a striker – I would not be upset to see him on our left wing next season.

Joao Pedro and Danny Ings are in the same sort of boat as each other. Having a good season, but are either Arsenal quality? No.

Romelu Lukaku only joined Inter Milan in the summer so he is unlikely to leave.

That leaves Lautaro Martinez and Timo Werner.

Werner is the stand out name on the list. Just 23-years-old, he already has 100 senior goals. He has been linked to Chelsea and Liverpool already. If he comes on the market, any top side after a striker will be after him.

If Arsenal do decide to cash in on Aubameyang and Lacazette, Werner must be top of the list. But I imagine Chelsea and Manchester United are thinking the same for next summer.

As for Martinez, I know nothing about him.

The reality is there is not a lot of quality proven goal scorers in world football that have youth on their side.

One option would be to look outside the top 4 leagues, and instead focus on Holland, France and Portugal:

The obvious one of Kylian Mbappe aside, there is also not much outside of the top 4 leagues.

Would you rather Aubameyang up top or Cyriel Dessers, Habib Diallo or Victor Osiemhan?

Moussa Dembele is the next best after Mbappe, but is he really up to Aubameyang’s level yet? Surely a better option would be to keep Aubameyang and sign Dembele as a replacement for Lacazette.

Likewise Myron Boadu is clearly a talent, but like with Gabriel Martinelli he is young and it will be a risk to have him as first choice.

I would rather keep a 31-year-old Aubameyang, backed up by Martinelli, than spend big on someone who is not really good enough.

Football is changing. Goal scoring is no longer a young mans game.


Age ain’t nothing but a number for Aubameyang

But Aubameyang is 31 at the end of the season was the response why I proposed on Twitter that we should be looking to tie him down to a new deal, even if it means increasing his weekly wage.

Arsenal fans (and perhaps football fans in general) have been conditioned over the years that passing through 30-years-old is something that is bad. That suddenly you go down hill rapidly. That you are done. That you should not get a contract beyond one year.

Arsene Wenger had the philosophy that players over 30 should only get a one year extension. But this theory is built on 1990s players who had not looked after themselves from a young age. These days players know a lot more about diet, fitness and drinking.

It is true that tying up money in someone at their peak is a danger. If they are at their peak they will soon by over the hill and going down the other side.

When a player is at his peak is when they usually command their highest wages in their career. But it is also when they are most likely to begin declining.

Andriy Shevchenko is the most obvious example of this.

Shevchenko left Milan for Chelsea for £30.8 million a month before his 30th birthday. He was one of the hottest strikers in Europe. 127 league goals in 226 games. He became the most expensive player in English football, and one of the highest paid.

He scored just 9 league goals in the 2 seasons he was at Chelsea before being loaned back to AC Milan.

But then you have the story of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo signed a four-year contract with Italian club Juventus after completing a €100 million transfer. He was already 33.

In the one and a half seasons that have followed, he has scored 50 goals in just 70 games across all competitions. Ronaldo has shown that age is nothing but a number.

When it comes to a players age and how long a contract you offer them, it is perhaps better to look deeper than their birth certificate.

Look at how many games he has on the clock, how often he picks up minor injuries, how many major injuries he has had throughout his career, and how naturally fit he is. It is also important to establish whether he has any long term injuries that he has been managing.

Aubameyang has played 488 games in his career. It is a huge chunk. But he was not a teen sensation who was playing week in, week out since he was 17 or 18. He had only played 39 games prior to his 20th birthday.

After this season he will have had 12 full seasons under his belt. Wayne Rooney and Nicolas Anelka were both 29-years-old when they completed their 12th full season.

Rooney played a further 3 seasons for Manchester United; Anelka 3 seasons for Chelsea.

Both did tail off in their final season, but that is why you offer Aubameyang something along the lines of a 2 year deal with an option to extend to 3 years.

Injuries also play a big part in what age a player begins to decline.

Someone who has had a big year-long injury will usually begin their decline earlier. Especially as a big injury can led to the rest of their career being blighted by further break downs. Think Abou Diaby.

Likewise a player plagued by multiple minor injuries will often give up earlier. Michael Owen or any number of player plagued by hamstring injuries. Gareth Bale springs to mind.

Throughout Aubameyang’s career, he has not suffered too many injuries – neither long term or short term.

A players natural fitness is also very important.

The human body naturally slows down as you age. Your metabolism slows. It is harder to keep those pounds off. But it affects people less who are “naturally fit”.

Compare again to Wayne Rooney. He was not a natural athlete and had to work hard to keep fit. Every pre-season was a slog. Every return from any sort of break he had to lose a couple of kilos. Eden Hazard has similar problems.

You can tell by Aubameyang’s body size and make up, he is a natural athlete. He does not need to work hard to stay in shape.

Finally the underlining injury issues. Think Thierry Henry. His back issue.

He was managing a back problem for a while, and eventually it caught up to him. As far as we know, Aubameyang does not have an underlining issue.

So here we have Aubameyang, about to turn 31-years-old, but his “body age” could be that of a 28 or 29-year-old. The sports scientists at Arsenal will know the score.

Ian Wright scored 30 goals in 41 games when he was 33.

Do not write off a player just because they are the wrong side of 30.


Match Report: Norwich 2 – 2 Arsenal

Norwich City (2) 2 Arsenal (1) 2
Premier League
Carrow Road, Norwich NR1 3JE
Sunday, 1st December 2019. Kick-off time: 2.00pm

(4-3-1-2) Bernd Leno; Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Mattéo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock; Mesut Özil; Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Nicolas Pépé, Emiliano Martínez, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (28 mins, 57 mins)
Yellow Cards: Calum Chambers
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 61%
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 27,067

And so, on a cold and brisk afternoon in Norfolk, a new beginning unfolds for us all. So much has been said and done in the past forty-eight hours, it would seem almost churlish to repeat things that we all already know and have opinions about; except to say that we now have a caretaker manager in the form of the popular ex-player Freddie Ljungberg, and not only is it our duty to support him and the players through this period of transition, but ourselves too. Make no mistake, in a very short while, we will discover just who the chosen one is to take over the manager’s role permanently from Unai Emery; all we can hope is that the recommendation of Raul Sanllehi, Edu and Vinai Venkatesham in their report to various Kroenkes is the correct one for everyone involved. After all, in the impatient world that modern football inhabits, Arsenal Football Club surely cannot afford to make the same mistakes in their managerial choice again.

We started the match brightly enough, and as early as the fourth minute Alexandre Lacazette was unlucky not to score with a good effort that went wide of the post. Arsenal appeared to find confidence in their movement, both on and off the ball, with most of the action being in the Norwich half; Shkodran Mustafi’s header was cleared off the line, and despite the odd breakout by the home side, the first quarter of an hour showed our dominance. Calum Chambers was also desperately unlucky not to score with a glancing header from a Mesut Özil corner, and it became clear that Norwich City’s zonal marking system was not exactly working in their favour. However, totally against the run of play, Teemu Pukki ran onto a through ball, and his shot went past Bernd Leno (via a deflection from Shkodran Mustafi) to give the home side the lead after twenty minutes.

In a controversial period of the match, just a couple of minutes later, a wicked cross from the right caught defender Christoph Zimmerman’s carelessly positioned upright arm and a penalty was given to us; subsequently goalkeeper Tim Krul saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s initial strike, but because of encroachment, VAR was consulted again and this time our captain made no mistake in equalising the scores. This incident merely served to fire both sides up, and by now some careless tackles from both teams were flying around, in which it was a miracle no-one was booked. Despite all of our considerable efforts, the home side took the lead through a strike from Todd Cantwell in injury time when we were caught by a counter-attack, which meant that we went into the break 1-2 down, quite undeservedly it has to be said.

The second half started more doggedly with Arsenal constantly attempting to break down a stoic Norwich City defence; again we were caught by a counter attack by the home side in which we were fortunate to address the situation adequately. Twelve minutes after the restart, we drew level with a superb opportunist goal from our captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when he was hovering, unmarked on the edge of the Norwich six-yard box; when the ball came to him from a corner (via a Calum Chambers header), he made no mistake. The home side came back at us in earnest, and poor marking from our defenders almost led to a third Norwich City goal on three occasions; thankfully Bernd Leno was more attentive than the Arsenal defence.

Entering the last twenty minutes of the match, it seemed as if every time the home side came forward, they looked like they were going to score, and so, recognising this, Joe Willock was substituted for Lucas Torreira, in an attempt to shore up the midfield; now we had serious work to do here. More pressure was put on us, so with fourteen minutes left, Bukayo Saka replaced Mattéo Guendouzi, thus giving us more width. It certainly worked, as were able to apply more pressure in vital areas of the pitch. And so the battle continued with no quarter given nor taken. Gabriel Martinelli took the place of Mesut Özil with two minutes of the match remaining. Bernd Leno was absolutely immense in this game, and the saves that he made in injury time kept us in the match. In the dying moments, Lucas Torreira was desperately unlucky not to score, but sadly it was not to be, and we went home with a draw.

Overall, it was certainly better than we had any right to expect, given our recent run of results. We moved quicker around the pitch than previously and we certainly played with more purpose. But the same old problems arise, particularly with regards to the defence, which is still porous, and has a serious absence of leadership. The marking isn’t tight enough, and the defence has the annoying habit of going to sleep at crucial points in the match. Having said that, we came back twice to earn this draw, and a point is certainly better than nothing. No doubt about it, Freddie Ljungberg has a lot of work to do here, and only time will tell how many of these players will still be at the club this time next year.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Brighton and Hove Albion at The Emirates on Thursday, 5th December at 8.15pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.