Arsenal V Leicester: Pictures
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Arsenal supporters may well feel the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was too premature – until their side signs a free-scoring replacement. The Gabon international has hit the ground running at Barcelona and is proving his worth week in week out.
Aubameyang’s four-year spell at the Emirates Stadium certainly ended on a sour note after being rushed out the door by Arteta in the late stages of the January transfer window.
The striker had previously been stripped of Gunners captaincy following a disciplinary breach and was also frozen out of the first team, with his attitude and mentality questioned by the manager.
But Barcelona seized the opportunity and swept in to take Aubameyang off of the hands of Arsenal, who were keen to let go as he was the highest-paid player at the club, in a free transfer.
However, Arteta could be regretting not having an ounce more patience as the 32-year-old forward is now amongst astute company in the Barca record books due to how impressively he has started his time at the Camp Nou.
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The former Borussia Dortmund star was on the scoresheet again for Xavi’s side on Sunday night against Osasuna, taking his tally for the season to five already.
In the last 60 years, only seven other players have scored five goals in their first six La Liga games for Barcelona, and it is largely club legends who have previously achieved such a feat.
Sandor Kocsis (1960), Johan Cruyff (1973), Hans Krankl (1978), Ronald Koeman (1989), Romario (1993), Ronaldo (1996) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2009) and now Aubameyang have matched that goal scoring record upon signing for the Catalan clubs.
It will take a lot more than an impressive record for Aubameyang’s side to close the gap on league leaders Real Madrid though, Los Blancos are 12 points clear of them at the top of the table and have a game in hand over second-placed Sevilla – as do Barca.
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On the other hand, Arsenal aren’t struggling without their former captain.
They sit in the fourth spot in the Premier League and Arteta’s new-look front line of Alexandre Lacazette, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are proving that they are more than capable of guiding the North London outfit to Champions League football.
The Gunners secured their fifth successive victory on Sunday afternoon, beating Leicester City 2-0.
Midfielder Thomas Partey opened the scoring for Arteta’s side with a neat header from a corner before Lacazette secured all three points by breaking his goal duck from the penalty spot in the second half.
Plenty have been quick to question why Arsenal were willing to terminate Aubameyang’s contract to greenlight the move to Barca when they are so short of depth in the final third.
With Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah out of contract at the end of the season, many hold the belief that keeping the forward on the books would have been the smartest move until replacements are signed. However, Arteta’s no-nonsense approach was unlikely to change now.
Speaking about how impressive his new signing has been, Xavi said: “Aubameyang is a present that has fallen out of the sky,
“It’s not just [the goals], it’s how he trains and his professionalism. He’s an example, [all the players] are.”
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