HOW TO GET AUBA FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS : DONT TWEAK HIM, TWEAK THE TEAM!
Who is Aubameyang? He is a prodigious goal scorer. There are few of them on this planet. A good fraction of his goals are tap ins. So far this season in all competitions, he has three times more goals per game, from inside the 6yds box than Aguero or Lacazette (WhoScored). Rarely does he score goals from outside the box. He is blessed with a blistering pace and for a man standing 6ft 2ins tall, his incredibly quick reaction and amazing acceleration are quite surprising. In the 30 meters sprint he posted a time faster than Usain Bolt’s (maybe hand timed which isn’t very accurate but which still tells a story) having clocked it in 3.7 seconds. He is brilliantly equipped to be there first. And he knows it and uses it.
He can smell a goal quicker than anybody else and has an uncanny sense for knowing where to be for the final touch. Capping it all, he’s got ice cold nerves in front of goal as well as the biggest grin you ever saw.
If you look elsewhere you find him a bit in the shadows. His tackling numbers are low (0.3 pg). So also his dribbling (0.5 pg). He averages 18.7 passes per game compared to Aguero at 24.5 (all stats WhoScored, all competitions 17/18). He does not go into duels for duel’s sake, but where he senses his lightening quickness would dispossess his man, he steps out. His mind is cunning and alert. A beast of the jungle as it were, crouched, waiting, off radar. Suddenly it is all electricity and bang and yang! Auba has scored yet again. The experts say we are damn lucky to have acquired him literally for the value of about 21 times his weight in gold! They say that’s cheap for a breed like him.
Auba’s genius is centered around his ability to get behind the back line ; with ball on feet, with off the ball runs and with runs without the ball, in each utilizing his athleticism and his acute sense of timing.
BALL ON FEET: Ball on feet and the tiniest of opennings, Auba is gone. If an opposing defence plays a high line to back its team’s high press it leaves itself at the mercy of Auba’s pace. If the defence drops deeper, the team loses its high press structure and otherwise finds vast spaces between its lines. His presence on the field puts teams in a quandary and places the onus on them to adjust. This rhymes perfectly with Wengerism.
OFF THE BALL RUNS: Auba loves playing off the shoulders of the back line. When a through pass is made, he utilizes his quicker reaction and powerful acceleration to get ahead of his markers through to one on one with the keeper. You bet your money he is the king of the one-on-one-with-keeper stats. We’ve already witnessed a number of these in the two matches he has played for us with only slight margin calls counting against more prime goal opportunities for him. When our our players have decoded his lightening quick reaction and his initial bust of speed they would know that all they need do is put well weighted balls between defenders at every opportunity. Luckily, we need no tweaking here as our team is awash with technical and visionary passers of the ball; Ozil, Wilshere, Mkhitaryan et all.
RUNS WITHOUT THE BALL: This is where the team needs to be tweaked for him. He scores a chunk of his goals at the far post from balls across the face of the goal. The typical of such crosses comes from a player in the wide areas who has gotten behind the opposition back line to place the ball between the retreating defenders and the goalkeeper. Auba (completely without the ball) is able to race into the no man’s land ahead of everyone. Usually he heads towards the far post.
This model situation arose three times in our match against Tottenham but unfortunately in two of them, Mkhitaryan crossed the ball poorly with his weaker left foot as he was playing on the left wing and so messed the golden opportunities up. The third occasion was when Lacazette screwed narrowly wide against Spurs. Had he known the first thing about Auba he would have placed the ball across the face of goal. Auba had raced in, all set for his trade mark tap-in. Three tap-ins missed because we were not properly set up for or (in Laca’s case) educated in, Auba’s patterns.
What adjustments do we make to our current team to play to his (Auba’s) strength? Very little.
If it is a back 4 formation we adjust by doing away with inverted wingers to play a left footer on the left and a right footer on the right. This way our wide men can get the ball across the face of goal quicker and more accurately.
On the other hand, if it is a back 3 where wing backs are used we could persist with the inverted inside forwards (eg Mkhi or Laca left inside, Ozil or Wilshere right inside). The wing backs are then used for getting behind the opposition back line.
Expect Auba every now and then to be the one that has bridged the back line in a wide area. In such an instance we should have men busting their lungs racing towards the far post turning Auba into the provider (easy to conjure up visions of Ramsey). How I wish Wenger would sanction drills on a few moves, these two last described in perticular. If some automatisms would give us a few more goals, well and good.
With our present personnel, the back 3 formation is my preference. My choice of it here is not because of defensive consideration. It is chosen so the team can play to Aubameyang’s strength, chosen for more goals in our favour. But for it to be meaningful we must have excellent offensive wingbacks. Kolasinac is a wingback made for going forward and he would suit Auba’s patterns perfectly. Bellerin has got to improve with his crosses. Maitland-Niles looks like he could grow quickly in that position and to my thinking should be used to give competition to Bellerin. Maitland-Niles has good speed which has equipped him for the forward runs. All he need acquire is getting right the timing of his crosses into the no man’s land. Or is it the Auba’s land?
A typical selection and formation that would play to Auba’s strength, when all are available (less Santi), would be:
—Kosh Musta Nacho—
Bells Xhaka Ramsey Kola
This arrangement, in my opinion, would optimize our present team’s potential. There is still a lot of work to do in our central midfield, defence and goalkeeping. Those are personnel issues that must wait for the next transfer window. If we can get them right, we would be fully back and swinging.
Meanwhile we should live for the next game. More than ever, now is the time for OGAAT. Please chip in with suggestions on how to get Auba firing on all cylinders.
Click on link below for video of Aubameyang and goals! We’ve got someone special in our midst.
By Pony Eye.