Aubameyang can cure Arsenal’s need for speed
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has set his sights on emulating Thierry Henry as Arsenal’s club record signing prepares to make his debut against Everton on Feb. 3.
Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in a 56 million ($79 million, 63 million euros) switch on Wednesday and is in line for his first appearance at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
The Gunners had two bids for Aubameyang rejected by Dortmund before agreeing the fee that eclipsed the 46 million they paid for France striker Alexandre Lacazette in July.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hopes Aubameyang’s arrival will off-set the loss of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United and the Gabon international is determined to make a good first impression on the Premier League.
The 28-year-old’s electric pace and lethal finishing terrorised Bundesliga defenders as he scored 141 goals in 213 games for Dortmund, including 21 in 24 matches this season.
It is that superior speed that could be the key element for an Arsenal side short of pace following Theo Walcott’s move to Everton.
Launching blistering counter-attacks was the hallmark of Wenger’s greatest Arsenal teams, with France forward Henry at the sharp end of those raids.
With Lacazette struggling badly in his first season in England -- the former Lyon star has scored only once in his last 12 appearances, it is essential Aubameyang hits the ground running as Arsenal sit eight points adrift of the top four.
The 2015 African Footballer of the Year isn’t shy about aiming high and has already admitted he would love to earn comparisons with Henry.
“I think the club has such a big history and great players like Thierry Henry,” Aubameyang told Arsenal Player.
“He’s an example for us strikers because he was fast and scored a lot of goals.
“I think I have to work a lot to be like him, but I will do.
“I’m a fast player and I score goals too, like Henry a little bit. But as I said, I have to work a lot more.”
Aubameyang departed Dortmund with hurt feelings all around following his suspension by the club for a match against Wolfsburg after missing a team meeting.
That wasn’t the only transgression from the self-confessed “crazy kid”, but Aubameyang could be tamed by a reunion with fellow new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
In the last season that Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan played together at Dortmund in 2015-16, they combined for 59 goals and 31 assists.
That rapport explains why Arsenal’s chief scout Sven Mislintat, who previously worked for Dortmund and helped bring Aubameyang to Germany, was reportedly pushing Wenger to pair them again in north London.
Mkhitaryan joined Arsenal as part of Sanchez’s move to United and should make his home debut alongside Aubameyang on Feb. 3.
Everton’s visit also offers Walcott a chance to prove Wenger wrong after the Frenchman sold the England winger for 20 million earlier this month.
Walcott, gradually frozen out by Wenger over the last year, scored his first goals for Everton on Wednesday as his brace in their 2-1 win over Leicester ended his new team’s run of seven games without victory.
The 28-year-old, who spent 12 years with Arsenal, said: “When I came to Everton I said I wanted to be part of something which I felt can move to the next level and pushing more so next season but have a good end to this season.
“For me personally to score my first goals at Goodison Park was fantastic and to get the win was the most important thing because it was much needed.
“The work-rate has always been there, that is what I am about. I’m a so-called old-school winger, up and down and working hard for the team.”