Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a Few Decent Youngsters Can Only Hide Arsenal’s Crisis for So Long

To have just one reliable source of goals is hardly ideal. To have just one reliable source of goals as a Premier League club is inexcusable. To have just one reliable source of goals and also be expected to finish in the top six is all but impossible.

Arsenal remain the only team in Premier League history to go an entire season unbeaten. That was, however, well before Mikel Arteta appeared as a player, let alone as a manager.

The gradual regression from the class of 2003/04 to where the club is now has been well documented, and Gunners fans deserve more than what they’re getting.

mikel arteta

They need not be reminded, but their side fell behind the pack as the legendary Arsene Wenger grew older and past his best. The man and the club were both in decline.

But while Wenger has reinvented himself as an insightful and passionate pundit, ​Arsenal have gone even further backwards. For supporters of one of England’s most historic sporting institutions, hopelessness has gone on for far too long.

The bitter truth is that ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who’s only been at Arsenal for just over two years, is already one of the best signings the club has ever made. He has provided over 42% of the team’s total league goals this season, while his assist numbers are also decent. 

40 goals in 28 fixtures is far too few for Arsenal, but for one player to have scored 42% of those is also far too much.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The club captain has not shirked the immeasurable expectation and responsibility involved in wearing the Arsenal shirt in his time at the club. In fact, he has risen to it. But the weight on his shoulders is huge, and that’s because of how rarely other players come to the fore and take a match by the scruff of the neck.

A very promising generation of young stars have burst the bubble at London Colney in recent years, making a name for themselves in the senior team.

These last few seasons of unwanted Europa League football have actually provided the perfect breeding ground with which to test the likes of ​Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka.

Bukayo Saka,Joe Willock

They’re English too, and Arsenal fans have waited too long for a new generation of London locals to really cement their places in the Emirates starting XI.

Arteta’s results have been average, mirroring the mediocrity under Unai Emery and Wenger, at least in the years since that flurry of FA Cup triumphs in the mid-2010s. 

But Arsenal are at a crossroads. Aubameyang is one of the ​Premier League’s leading goalscorers this term, but the lack of quality players around him will surely leave the former Borussia Dortmund star disillusioned. It’s his future which may define the next couple of years at the Emirates.

Does he leave to find a club on the up rather than in a mistreated state? Or do Arsenal’s higher powers invest and, in the meantime, the current players buck up their ideas and find some much-needed consistency? Arsenal are crying out for consistency. But consistently good performances, not consistently finishing fifth.

The fanbase of a club that truly touches all corners of the globe will distinctly long for the adoption of the former, but Stan Kroenke’s reputation as a saver, not a spender, does not bode well.

Young and exciting players have been produced, but not every position has been provided for. At centre back, the transfer market looks like it offers the only hope. The case is the same in central midfield, too.

David Luiz

Saka in particular has really blossomed under Arteta this season and, as a converted full back, has provided a number of mouth-watering crosses that Aubameyang has eaten up. These deep passes from wide into ​Alexandre Lacazette and his strike partner have counted for a large number of Arsenal’s goals this campaign, but a team at this level needs more variation. 

Why can’t Granit Xhaka and ​Mesut Özil sustain their performance levels for entire seasons? Here’s that word again: consistency.

Saka, Willock, Nelson and a few others offer promise, excitement and interest at Arsenal, while Aubameyang offers enviable quality.

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The Gunners need more, though. In what is ultimately a team game, some members of the side simply aren’t pulling their weight.

The foundations of the club are brittle, old, and breaking. Three pillars that keep every club ticking over – investment, philosophy, and consistency – are noticeably absent from this one, and all three need addressing.

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Arsenal Defender Shkodran Mustafi Admits There Are ‘Many Question Marks’ Over His Future

Shkodran Mustafi has been a figure of fun and derision for the majority of his Arsenal career, as the German defender has managed to drop clanger after howler, week-in, week-out for the Gunners. 

But new Arsenal coach and apparent miracle worker Mikel Arteta has revitalised the 27-year-old’s career at the Emirates Stadium, helping him to recapture his impressive form of old in recent months. Unfortunately for Mustafi, his progress has been slowed by the coronavirus outbreak, which has brought all football to a standstill. 

Shkodran Mustafi

And the defender has been quick to recognise the role Arteta has played in his upturn in form, insisting to ​Sky Sports in Germany that the Spaniard’s style of play ‘really fits’ his defensive attributes. 

But Mustafi also admitted that he is unsure on where his future lies, stating that ‘there are still many question marks’ over whether he will remain with ​the Gunners next year. 

“I’ve played more regularly under Mikel Arteta, also in the Premier League. That has really helped me. I feel very good. 

“I understand his style of football, how he likes to play, that really fits me.

“The way he is at his age, that has really surprised me, I don’t know if after four years, I could be that serious and have a charisma like his to lead a team.

“He is managing that very well. I feel that in this short amount of time I already learned some new things that help my game.

“I can imagine continuing to play for him. But we still don’t know about the future. There are still many question marks.”

Richarlison,Shkodran Mustafi

Despite making clear progress since Arteta’s arrival in December, Arsenal remain ninth in the Premier League table, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League qualification. 

Mustafi has featured heavily under the new boss, having made only one Premier League appearance this term for the Gunners, prior to the appointment of the former ​Manchester City assistant coach. 

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UEFA President Admits Current Premier League Season May Be Written Off as Null & Void

Bad news, Liverpool supporters. ​

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has admitted that clubs may have to settle with ‘starting again at the beginning of next season’, meaning the entirety of the current 2019/20 campaign would be considered null and void. 

Liverpool boast a whopping 25-point lead over nearest rivals Manchester City at the top of the table, and the Reds are only two victories away from winning their first Premier League title since its inception.

Juergen Klopp

But all of their efforts may have been for nothing, after the fast-spreading coronavirus brought a temporary halt to football across all of Europe. There is hope that the season will restart in due course, but with the virus showing no signs of ceasing, concerns are beginning to develop over a positive resolution for this campaign. 

And UEFA chief Ceferin told ​La Repubblica that there are three options which the footballing body are considering as possible ways of ending the season, including starting the 2019/20 campaign from scratch. 

“There is a plan A, B and C,” Ceferin explained. 

“The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.

“There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs.”

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Many fans would prefer for the current season to be completed behind closed doors, rather than deeming the campaign null and void. Although it is a far from ideal alternative, this option would at least provide a natural ending to the football season, and Ceferin confessed that this would be better than wiping out all progress thus far. 

“It’s hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don’t know whether we’ll resume, with or without spectators,” he said.

“If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships.”

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The Biggest ‘What If?’ Moments of Arsenal’s Recent History

How best to fill the void left behind by club football? Many fans have been forced to get creative. We’ve had no choice but to dig up the old archives, and to revisit, rewatch, and relive moments of our clubs’ histories. The reality of doing so results in both the great, and not so great moments resurfacing in our minds. 

There’s no denying that since Arsenal left Highbury in May 2006, the club have endured a frustrating period in their history. Arsène Wenger did what he could until the tide turned against him. Unai Emery gave it a shot, and there’s no need for anyone to revisit that just now. 

But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. After an ever-lasting period of sustained stagnation that had indeed transitioned into a disappointing decline, Mikel Arteta’s appointment as manager may yet prove to be the literal light at the end of the tunnel. 


And, that tunnel has been dark at times. As with any club, ​Arsenal have endured some painful experiences down the years. Some hurt because they exposed just how far the club had fallen below its previous echelons. 

There were other moments, however, that hurt all the more because of how close the team were to achieving considerable, and perhaps deserved, success. The prospect of imagining how things might have turned out is a tantalising thought to entertain.

God, how close were we to winning… If only…”

But, as you allow your mind to wonder, with it inevitably comes the stark reality of Arsenal’s failure. And make no mistake, in these particular examples, the margins were finer than fine. And, when the balance of luck swung, it swung unfavourably.

We therefore ask the question – how different might the current state of affairs be if these five things panned out differently…


2006 – Losing the Champions League Final

Arsenal's German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann

Arsène Wenger said it was the biggest regret of his managerial career. Thierry Henry’s sentiments echoed something similar. And, oh how close Arsenal were to lifting the ​Champions League in 2006. 

If only Jens Lehmann hadn’t been sent off in the 18th minute after fouling Samuel Eto’o. ​Does it matter that the referee admitted he regretted his decision afterwards? No. 

And the Gunners still managed to go 1-0 up, and hold the lead until the final 20 minutes. And, it’s been made known that the consensus in the ​Barcelona dressing room at half-time was – if Arsenal were to score a second goal to go 2-0 up, then there would have been no way back.

If only Henry managed to convert one of the several presentable opportunities that came his way. And then maybe, just maybe, Barça would’t have scored twice (of which one was offside! VAR!) and snatched the silverware out of Arsenal’s hands. 


2008 – Eduardo’s Season-Derailing Injury

Eduardo da Silva

In terms of challenging for the title, the 2007/08 campaign was the closest the Gunners have come in recent times. The side were undefeated in their opening 28 fixtures across all competitions, which set a new club record.

And, having been top of the league for two-thirds of the campaign, it all came crashing to a halt after Eduardo suffered a horrific leg-break during a 2-2 draw to Birmingham in February. 

The team were unable to recover from such a cruel psychological blow, and failed to win six of the subsequent seven fixtures. Prior to the injury, they had won eight of their previous ten, with Eduardo himself establishing himself as a key player. 

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that Arsenal might have ended up champions of England that year if Eduardo hadn’t have got injured in the way that he did. Cruel, cruel stuff.


2009 – Failing to Sign Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso

In a revealing ​interview, Fabregas revealed how in the summer of 2009 Xabi Alonso, then at ​Liverpool, was desperate to join his fellow Spaniard in North London. Cesc did what he could to encourage Arsenal to make their move. The ball was in their court.

As we all know, Alonso did not get his wish, and instead became a ​Real Madrid player, where he spent five years before joining ​Bayern Munich. To put it mildly, he didn’t do badly at either club.

Safe to say then, Arsenal may regret their decision not to have made that ‘final push’ for the World Cup winner, who Fabregas declared “was dying to come”.

What a shame. If Alonso signs, then Fabregas stays for several more seasons. And, with those two in the centre of our midfield, who knows what we could have achieved. The mind boggles…


2011 – Van Persie’s Ridiculous Red Card 

Robin van Persie,Massimo Busacca

This is certainly a case of ‘what if’. As we all remember, Arsenal had beaten Barcelona 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie.

In the return leg, Van Persie levelled the scoring to 1-1 on the night, and it looked as though Wenger’s side had a real chance of progression to the quarter-finals. 

Unfortunately for Gooners, that hope didn’t last long. Van Persie was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. Why? Because he hadn’t heard the referee’s whistle in time to stop shooting amid the roars of 100,000 fans.

An unforgivable decision that ultimately cost Arsenal any chance of progressing further in the competition. 


2014 – Deciding Against Re-Signing Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas,Branislav Ivanovic

After Fabregas left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2011, there were rumours a clause was placed in his contract that would give the North London club first dibs on the Spanish magician – should he ever decide to leave Catalonia.

Well, that’s what happened did the summer of 2014. And the man himself confirmed that Arsenal had first refusal to re-secure his services, and that he was under the impression he was returning to the Emirates. 

But, after Arsenal failed to clarify their interest, well, we all know what happened next. Cesc joined ​Chelsea, won two ​Premier League titles, and that was that. Some things don’t need elaborating. 


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Picking the Best French XI of the Premier League Era

England and France have long been ‘the best of enemies’, with a historical rivalry lasting hundreds of years and more. 

But when it comes to football, more than a few of the Premier League’s best ever foreign imports have been French and are rightly adored by fans up and down the country.

Here’s a look at a starting XI made up of the greatest French players ever to grace the Premier League…


GK – Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris has been plying his trade in the Premier League for almost a decade after arriving from Lyon for a bargain £8m. He was already captain of the French national team at that time and later was awarded the Tottenham armband on a permanent basis in 2015.

Like any goalkeeper, Lloris has his share of questionable moments, but he remains one of the best in the world has been a mainstay of Spurs’ rise from also-rans to ‘Big Six’.


DF – Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

He may have only been in the Premier League for a relatively short amount of time, but Aymeric Laporte already has two titles to his name and has emerged as Manchester City’s leading defender since the start of the 2018/19 season.

Laporte, who has remarkably never been capped at senior international level, was absent through injury in the first half of 2019/20, which served to illustrate his importance to City.


DF – Marcel Desailly

Desailly celebrates scoring the second

Marcel Desailly was fresh off winning the 1998 World Cup when he joined Chelsea, having also previously won the Champions League with both Marseille and AC Milan. He was considered one of the best in the world at the time.

It is no coincidence that Desailly’s spell at Chelsea came at a time when the club was consolidating its place among the best in England, even before the Roman Abramovich era.


DF – Patrice Evra

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Patrice Evra was infamously substituted at half-time on his Manchester United debut because he was struggling to cope with the targeted aerial assault from Manchester City. Yet he soon found his feet to become a heavily decorated fan favourite and occasional captain.

United paid just £5.5m for his services in January 2006 and by the time he left in 2014, Evra had won 10 major trophies, including the Champions League and five Premier League titles.


MF – David Ginola

Portrait of David Ginola

David Ginola won PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1998/99. The same season that Manchester United won the treble, which underlines just how highly the Tottenham winger was thought of by journalists and fellow pros.

Ginola had first arrived in England when he signed for Kevin Keegan’s exciting Newcastle side in 1995, while he also played for Aston Villa and Everton before retiring.


MF – N’Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante

N’Golo Kante was the first outfield player to win back-to-back Premier League era titles with different clubs when he lifted the trophy with Leicester and Chelsea in 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively – he won a PFA and FWA individual double in the latter.

Kante was a complete unknown before the summer of 2015 when Leicester spent an extremely modest £5.6m to buy him from Caen. He has been one of the best in the world ever since.


MF – Claude Makelele

Chelsea's Frank Lampard (2nd L) celebrat

Real Madrid’s troubles in the mid-2000s when the Galacticos should have been at their peak can probably be traced to selling Claude Makelele and failing to replace him. Chelsea reaped the benefits of their purchase in 2003 and he was the fulcrum of back-to-back title wins.

As a defensive midfield shield, Makelele wasn’t a goalscorer, but he did take a penalty towards the end of the 2004/05 season. The kick was saved, although he converted the rebound.


MF – Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira and Sean Davis

Patrick Vieira is remembered as one of the Premier League’s all-time great foreign imports. He won two domestic doubles with Arsenal and captained the ‘Invincibles’ to their unbeaten season in 2003/04, while his personal rivalry with Roy Keane is the stuff of legend.

Vieira arrived at Arsenal in 1996. But although he wasn’t actually signed by Arsene Wenger, who joined the club a few months later, it is known that Wenger’s imminent arrival did play a role.


MF – Robert Pires

Robert Pires

Robert Pires was another Frenchman who thrived in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, winning the FWA Footballer of the Year award in 2001/02 when Arsenal completed a domestic league and FA Cup double.

Pires was known for his Gallic flair on the pitch and was on fire when the Gunners won the Premier League again in 2003/04, scoring 14 times from his wide midfield role.


FW – Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona is credited as being the final piece of the jigsaw and the catalyst for Manchester United’s Premier League dominance in the mid-1990s, scoring crucial goals in the 1992/93, 1993/94 and 1995/96 title winning campaigns – the latter two also yielded domestic doubles.

Cantona captained the Old Trafford club to further Premier League glory in his final season as a professional, while his legacy and influence helped secure an even more successful future.


FW – Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry

Right up there in the debate of the greatest Premier League player of all time, Thierry Henry is Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer after netting 228 goals for the Gunners. He also holds the record for most Premier League Golden Boots wins with four – all outright as well.

Henry was thought of as more of a winger when he first arrived in England, transformed into a striker by Arsene Wenger, and initially struggled to find the net. That quickly changed.


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