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Aubameyang’s imminent arrival sparks Arsenal optimism

Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring the opening goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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30th January, 2018
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s time in Germany seems all but over, as Borussia Dortmund reportedly accept a £55 million deal to send the striker to the Emirates.

The move would end the Gabon international’s three-and-a-half-year stint at Dortmund, where he claimed two German Super Cups and the German DFB-Pokal Cup. The 28-year-old will also leave Germany as the highest-scoring African in Bundesliga history, finding the net 98 times in the league. Aubameyang has scored 141 goals in 213 appearances in all competitions.

Arsenal are in need of a potent forward, with the departure of Alexis Sanchez to rivals Manchester United last week and Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette still adjusting to life in the Premier League.

The looming arrival of the pacey frontman adds some much-needed optimism around the Emirates, as the Gunners look to put a disappointing half-season behind them and push for that all-important top-four spot. Arsenal also have a chance to claim silverware when they take on Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at the end of February.

Although they’ve lost arguably their best player in Sanchez, the Gunners received Henrikh Mkhitaryan in exchange, who will surely relish the chance to link up with his former Dortmund teammate. When the deal is completed, Arsene Wenger will have an array of attacking weapons to choose from.

Arsenal are known to play with a lone striker, but now with another well-renowned forward at his disposal, it would be foolish to rule out the option of playing two up front. Wenger must be tempted by the potential pairing of Lacazette with Germany’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2015-16.

Given the Gabon striker’s fierce speed, it’s possible he could operate on the right of a lively attacking three, which would see Mkhitaryan play off the left-hand touchline and Lacazette down the middle.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

This means Mesut Özil would be deployed into a midfield three consisting of the impressive Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka. The German playmaker would be given licence to link with the attacking trio. Özil’s unique ability to pick out teammates in the final third, paired with the pace and intelligence that Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang possess, there’s reason for the Arsenal faithful to feel excited again.

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It will certainly be interesting to see what system Wenger incorporates, particularly one that fits all four players together. It helps that Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang have pre-existing chemistry which is a bonus for Wenger up front.

This could end up being the Gunners’ most successful transfer window in recent memory. The relatively painless resolution to the Sanchez problem is definitely a win for Wenger and the board.

Performances have already picked up since the departure of the Chilean international, winning comprehensively against Crystal Palace before fighting back to eliminate Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Despite the recruitment of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang, many still believe the club needs strengthening. There are questions in the midfield with the departure of Francis Coquelin to Valencia, as well as the core of defence.

Olivier Giroud may also be headed for the exit after Chelsea were rumoured to agree a deal for the French international.

Giroud’s presence will surely be missed in the Gunners squad given his aerial talent and link-up play. When looking at the current Arsenal squad without the Frenchman, the side clearly lacks height and what the former Montpellier HSC man offers as a front man.

It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly how Arsenal will fare for the rest of the season, even with the quality that’s been brought in.

Nevertheless, it’s hard not to picture what players like Aubameyang, Lacazette and Özil can do together on the pitch. Given Arsenal’s beautiful attacking style, it’s hard not to feel upbeat about the club right now.

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