We still don’t know what will happen with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal contract, but we’ve been reminded once again how much they’ll miss him if he goes.
The Gabonese goal machine was superb for the Gunners as they thrashed Norwich City 4-0 tonight on the club’s long-awaited return to the Emirates Stadium.
It was Arsenal’s first home game since Project Restart got going last month, but as Aubameyang dazzled in the empty ground, you have to wonder if the home crowd will ever get to see him play here again.
Arsenal’s first goal, of course, came thanks to a huge slice of luck as Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul suffered a moment to forget, much like Southampton’s Alex McCarthy did in Arsenal’s win at the St Mary’s Stadium last week.
On that occasion, Eddie Nketiah pounced on the error to put the ball into the empty net, and this time it was Aubameyang on hand to finish the easy opportunity.
The 31-year-old simply doesn’t miss easy chances like this, and it made a small piece of history for him and his club as well.
This was Aubameyang’s 50th Premier League goal for Arsenal, and, with the strike coming in just 79 games, it made him the quickest player to reach a half century in a red and white shirt.
But, as if Gooners needed reminding, Aubameyang is more than just a great goal-scorer; his all-round quality would be badly missed if he were to move on at the end of this season.
Not long after scoring the opener, the former Borussia Dortmund man’s subtle flick into the path of Granit Xhaka created the team’s second goal…
If Norwich were all at sea for that first goal, they didn’t do much better when Aubameyang scored again in the second half.
Sloppy defending gave Aubameyang acres of space in the middle, and a player of his quality was never going to make any mistake from here…
This second goal put Aubameyang level with Jamie Vardy in the race for this season’s Golden Boot – the prize he also won, albeit jointly, last season.
Arsenal may be in the FA Cup semi-finals, but these top scorer prizes may well be the only trophies Aubameyang picks up in his time in north London.
Throughout his entire time at the club, he’s looked a level above everyone else in his team, and he’ll only have enhanced his personal reputation by continuing to flourish in such challenging circumstances.
Still, perhaps there is a sign of things improving under Mikel Arteta, with even backup right-back Cedric Soares getting in on the act this evening…
Few would have expected the signing of Soares to amount to much, but this was a fine effort on his debut for the club, and could suggest Arteta will be able to work his magic on players – even the less glamorous names signed on a budget.
Liverpool will be the example for teams to follow in the years to come, with the Reds able to utterly dominate the Premier League this season, with many players who initially looked low-key purchases turning into world beaters.
Soares might not quite be the next Andrew Robertson, but Arsenal fans will be happy if Arteta can at least do a ‘mini-Klopp’ and turn this dysfunctional side into top four contenders next season.
It will, though, be that much harder without Aubameyang, who lit up the Emirates tonight to remind fans of what they could be missing once they do eventually get to return to their stadium.