In the early part of the Unai Emery regime, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has failed to thrive.
The Gabonese hitman took to life at Arsenal like a duck to water after his January signing from Borussia Dortmund, scoring 10 goals in 14 games under Arsene Wenger.
But the 29-year-old has struggled to fire in the Premier League under his new Spanish coach.
There was of course the goal against Cardiff, a wonderful wrapped finish with his instep from 22 yards, but that was his only goal in his first five competitive matches under Emery.
And simply, as they’ll tell you in Germany, when Aubameyang isn’t scoring, he isn’t really affecting games all that much.
As such, his selection in the Europa League meeting with Ukrainian side Vorskla looked very much a case of a Emery offering him a chance to get his confidence levels on the rise, a chance to fill his boots.
Aubameyang, who lest we forget arrived in north London having scored 141 goals in 213 games for BVB, did just that.
In his 57 minute showcase, Aubameyang struck twice.
Firstly, he produced a goal similar to those so often seen at the Westfalenstadion, providing the finishing touch to a lightning-quick counter-attack after being played in by Alex Iwobi.
With his last act, he rattled an unerring effort from 25 yards past the hapless Bogdan Shust.
(Image: EMPICS Sport)
(Image: Getty Images Europe)
In between he cut past an opponent and fired off a post, an effort which had Martin Keown purring and comparing him to the club’s record scorer, Thierry Henry.
“It reminded me of Henry, and that’s a massive compliment,” Keown said on BT Sport. “The swagger he had there, the bit of confidence, and then the shot to match was really a good effort.
“Maybe now he will start to believe in himself a bit more.”
(Image: Getty Images Europe)
Certainly, that swagger was back and the truth of the matter is that Aubameyang looked far more at home playing as the central striker than he has operating from the left more recently.
Which means Unai Emery now has an all-too familiar question and headache.
You get the sense that Lacazette knows that too, as he slumped in his chair on the substitutes bench, watching the action intently from the sidelines.
(Image: BT Sport)
Aubameyang and Lacazette are firm friends off the field but a desire to play them together recently – something Emery had initially been reticent to do – has meant Aubameyang being pushed out to the flanks in Emery’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Simply, it doesn’t bring anything like the best from him. He may have been a flying winger in his younger days at Saint-Etienne, but operating in such areas is no longer his game. It doesn’t suit Lacazette either.
Now, the club’s record signing has staked his claim to be the starting central striker.
But for the most part this season, the team has looked better when Lacazette is in it. Rested tonight, he will be back against Everton on Sunday.
Theirs is a conundrum that Emery is again under pressure to solve.
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