Arsenal have looked better without Pierre Aubameyang this season, according to Gooner and former England striker Darren Bent.
But what do stats say about the Gunners skipper and his role in Mikel Arteta’s team?
Even the most avid Arsenal supporter would admit Aubameyang has been a shadow of the player they usually see in a red and white shirt this season.
Without the Gabon international’s goals, the north London side would have finished 16th in the Premier League last season – just two points off the relegation zone.
He played a key role in their FA Cup victory too, scoring both of the Gunners’ goals in a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
But the tables have well and truly turned now, having managed just nine Premier League goals this term, and Bent believes Arsenal are actually better off without Aubameyang at the moment.
“You hear the commentary from Sam [Matterface] in last year’s [FA Cup] semi-final and final and he was brilliant – you have to have him in the team he was that good.
“And you had to get him to sign that new contract [as well]. But I don’t think we’ve had this [Pierre-Emerick[ Aubameyang this season.
“Maybe the first game of the season against Fulham he saw it when he was sensational – he hadn’t still signed the contract then.
“In terms of Arsenal going forward at the moment, if he hasn’t scored he’s just a passenger.”
And stats back up Bent’s claim.
Arsenal with and without Aubameyang in 2020/21
With: W9, D5, L11 – 36 per cent
Without: W4, D1, L1 – 66.6 per cent
Mikel Arteta’s men have a winning record of 66.6 per cent in the Premier League without Aubameyang in the team this season.
Meanwhile, the ninth-placed Gunners have incredibly won just 36 per cent of league matches he has featured in 2020/21, yielding just nine wins from 25.
It represents a stark contrast from Aubameyang’s critical influence on the side last term.
And Bent underlined why he’d prefer to see Aubameyang’s strike partner, Alexandre Lacazette, ahead of him in the side.
Aubameyang’s incredible stats in 2019/20
– Aubameyang’s 22 Premier League goals earned Arsenal 19 points in 2019/20, 37.5 per cent of their entire total.
– And 17 [77 per cent] of those goals had a direct impact on the game’s result.
– Aubameyang also became the fastest Arsenal player to reach 50 Premier League goals since Thierry Henry after notching a brace in a 4-0 victory over Norwich last July. He took 79 matches, four games fewer than Gunners icon Henry.
– At the start of the 2019/20 campaign he also became the first Arsenal player since Dennis Bergkamp [in 1997-98] to score seven goals in the opening seven Premier League matches of a season.
– Aubameyang is the only player in the last 30 years to score twice in the FA Cup semi-finals and final in the same season.
– The Gabon international scored seven goals in 11 appearances against ‘Big Six’ clubs last season.
– Aubameyang has already cemented himself as one of Arsenal’s top 10 Premier League goalscorers, remarkably taking just 85 appearances to reach that feat.
He added: “At times it’s like they’re playing with 10 men. Whereas with [Alexandre] Lazacette – he might not score the same amount of goals as Aubameyang scores – but I think he offers a lot more.
“That’s in terms of his hold up play and bringing people into the game, so for me at times Arsenal do look better without him [Aubameyang].
“And that’s how it should be with a captain. As a captain you should be virtually undroppable – in terms of attitude – and even if they’re not playing well they’re still working hard for the team.
“So you’d go even though he’s not having his best of games he’s still got an influence on the rest of the team.
“And I think kind of like, at times, Aubameyang’s captain but they’re still playing with 10 men.”