‘Second? But then who will finish top of the pile?’
Oh we do love a little chuckle every now and then. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be the top scorer at Arsenal. Again. I will eat the keyboard this is being typed on if he doesn’t. Well, that’s hardly a ballsy shout though, is it? Weak stuff.
So, we move on down the list to who will finish second in the scoring charts. For a side synonymous with free-flowing attacking football, scoring just 56 goals in the Premier League – the lowest tally since 1995/96 – fell way below expectations. The captain’s 27 in all competitions were followed up closest by Alexandre Lacazette‘s 12, then Gabriel Martinelli’s ten.
Hoping to see the defensive shackles loosened a touch under Mikel Arteta for the coming season after investing in better (not crap) centre-halves, the onus is on that total to rise.
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It goes without saying that the Frenchman in that list needs to rediscover his scoring boots, while the teenage sensation from Brazil was never expected to hit the ground running quite like he did.
Who, though, will get closest to Aubameyang? Let’s take a look, in glorious ranking fashion, of course.
And in the blue corn…..ah, damn, red corner, we have the newest forward in our ranks, Willian. It does look set to be an interesting season with the 32-year-old as, given his age, one would expect that his involvement in the northern part of the capital would be greater in his debut campaign – regardless of his 50 year contract or whatever it is.
Whether that is in the league or not, he will start a fair few games across the four competitions and there is no denying he’s got a keen eye for goal. When Nicolas Pepe is out of the side we can expect him to hit a fair few free-kicks, a trait that has become his forte during his time in England.
Despite the overriding concern with his age, he knows where the net is. Last season his nine league goals were his best return in a Chelsea shirt.
It’s unlikely he’ll score a bucket load, but Joe Willock‘s five last year earned him fifth place in the charts so, yeah.
4. Bukayo Saka
This is probably where Gabriel Martinelli would have fit in. However, with it likely we won’t see him return to action until 2021, the reintegration and recovery time will make it exceedingly tough for him to hit the heights of last season.
Saka, on the other hand, has proven himself to be more of a creator than a goalscorer. He scored just four last season, but set up another 11 – with the first game of this season at Wembley seeing him get in on the assist charts already.
No longer expected to play left-back, the addition of a creative outlet like Willian could ease some of the burden on Saka’s shoulders, while it remains to be seen whether an attacking midfielder could be brought in to help boost those numbers. Again, don’t expect him to be comfortably in double figures, but equally don’t underestimate him.
3. Alexandre Lacazette
Will he even be here? That’s a topic in itself, but working on the basis that he will, we can still expect him to be there or thereabouts in the charts come the end of the campaign.
After a barren drought that began at the midway point of last season, Lacazette got that all-important goal (albeit a ginormous fluke) he severely craved, going on to net five in his next ten outings in the top flight.
Are we going to see the step up from the Frenchman for 2020/21? Truth be told, it’s hard to envisage. A strong end to the season promotes the notion of a positive improvement, but the days of him grabbing 15, let alone 20, a season appear beyond his capabilities.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be wearing his heart on his sleeve, linking the lines or failing hopelessly, though. Goals will still come.
2. Eddie Nketiah
This kid, I’m telling you, he’s going to be a star. A big one.
Eddie Nketiah is such an exciting prospect at the football club it’s hard not to get giddy at the thought of him leading the line full-time in the future.
Critics will point to his goal return (nine goals in 36 matches last season) but he only started 13 of those matches for both Leeds and Arsenal, having only tasted first team football at the tail end of 2017 at the tender age of 18.
If Arteta’s selection choices were anything to go by after he took over the post, then Nketiah is due to keep starting matches for the coming term. Many fans are worried he’s not quite there yet, but he will show everyone just how good he is.
He. Will. Be. A. Star.
1. Nicolas Pepe
One full season in English football under his belt, a manager who actually knows what he’s doing, teammates he’s familiar with, a city he’s accustomed to….. all of which pointing towards us seeing the real Nicolas Pepe stand up next season. He’s had an extended break (perhaps too long?) having not had a pre-season at all last term, with the batteries charged and ready to go in the Premier League.
Eight goals from right-wing wasn’t what £72m suggested he’d bring, but we’ve been over his need to bed into his surroundings and whatnot. He’s been let him off the hook, if you like.
Now, there is no reason why the club-record signing shouldn’t be in double figures for both goals and assists next season. He has the ability, he has the managerial stability, but most importantly of all, he has to step up.
Can we foresee that happening? It may divide opinion but this particular side is leaning in the Ivorian’s favour. That could be recency bias after his superb outing in the FA Cup final, or it could be because he is a superbly talented footballer who is finally able to let loose. We can’t wait.