By Peter Guckian.
“Auba-zette” are the Premier League’s latest dynamic duo.
Throughout the 27 years of the Premier League, football fans have been graced with many strikers who have formed lethal goalscoring partnerships that have helped their clubs go on to win Premier League titles, FA Cup medals and occasional Champions League trophies.
Since the league broke away in August 1992, many dynamic duos have contributed to their respective club’s success or survival in both domestic and European competitions. The most memorable of these duos was the partnership of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. During Manchester United’s treble-winning season in 1999, the pair scored an amazing 53 goals combined in all competitions and were renowned for their ‘one-two’ style of play and silencing 90,000 people at the Nou Camp.
The impact of this partnership impact on English football has never really been replicated, although many have tried. That was until last season when Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took the Premier League by storm.
In July 2017, Arsenal broke their transfer record to sign French international striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon for €53 million in an attempt to sort their goal-scoring woes. Arsenal had struggled upfront since the departure of their talisman Thierry Henry to Barcelona back in 2007.
Arsene Wenger had attempted to fill this void at the Gunners by bringing in forwards such as Lukas Podolski, Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud. But ultimately none of them could replicate the form Henry had shown with the Gunners, where he scored an incredible 226 goals in 369 games.
Lacazette had been highly sought after by many top European clubs after scoring 129 goals in 275 appearances for Lyon, becoming the club’s all-time top goalscorer. He was due to join Atletico Madrid but saw the move scuppered as the club were enduring a transfer ban.
The forward was a much-welcomed addition at the Emirates, a player some believed could finally fill the boots of Henry, his French counterpart, after a decade of asking. Wenger surprised Arsenal fans by breaking the club’s record transfer fee again within six months, signing Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for €69 million. The Gabon international had been a prolific scorer for the German club with 141 goals in 213 appearances. He has proven to be a nice parting gift from Wenger to Gunners supporters.
Fans of the north London club could be easily forgiven for becoming optimistic once again. Usually quite reserved within the transfer market, Arsenal splashed over €100 million on two strikers who had been brilliant goalscorers for their respective clubs.
As always, questions arose of their ability to adapt to the tough, durable style of playing in the Premier League compared to the Bundesliga and Ligue 1. Many world-class players have arrived in the Premier League but have failed to live up to the hype and expectation that they had brought along with them. Top-class forwards such as Diego Forlán, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao have attempted but failed to make it in England only to excel in French, Spanish and Italian leagues.
This wasn’t the case for Aubameyang and Lacazette. Only playing for around a third of the 2017/2018 Premier League campaign together, the attackers mustered up 24 goals between them. It is also important to note that Lacazette had been suffering from an injury around the time of Aubameyang’s arrival, only returning to full fitness in March.
Last season, however, any scepticism of both men that had been lingering was well and truly removed. Together they scored a combined 50 goals in all competitions for Arsenal helping the north London club finished fifth in the Premier League ahead of Manchester United as well as being runners-up in the Europa League against arch-rivals, Chelsea.
In his first full season with Arsenal, Aubameyang managed to win the Premier League Golden Boot, sharing it with Liverpool’s Saido Mané and Mohammad Salah, each scoring 22 goals. His lightning-quick pace, along with his terrific off the ball movement and finishing, proved to be a nightmare for many defenders throughout the campaign.
Although Lacazette managed to bag just 13 Premier League goals, the French international was still very much an influential and instrumental figure in the club’s fight for the top four, assisting his teammates eight times. His work rate was rewarded by the Arsenal fans who voted him as the club’s player of the season for the 2018/2019 campaign. In Europe, Aubameyang scored eight goals in 12 appearances, while Lacazette bagged five goals in 10 games. Like Yorke and Cole, the pair are also great friends off the field, which appears to aid their on-pitch partnership.
Although Arsenal were unable to obtain Champions League football after finishing fifth and runners-up to London rivals Chelsea in the Europa League, the partnership of Aubameyang and Lacazette has brought back optimism and hope to the Emirates.
Only two games into the 2019/2020 season already Aubameyang has scored two while Lacazette has scored one, putting both players on course for another excellent season in the Premier League, at least. With the addition of Nicolas Pépé from Lille for another club-record fee of €79 million, Arsenal fans’ mouths will be watering at the prospect of what this season has to offer.