Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng Needs Kieran Tierney
Without rehashing a narrative previously attributed to Nicolas Pepe, Aubameyang is a more potent attacking force when surrounded by his preferred personnel.
Even when he has his ideal teammates around him, runs he makes are applied with greater intent depending on who is in possession. This is more evident when he’s at centre-forward. When lining up on the left wing, his strengths are limited to near total neutralisation without the right support.
Early on at the Emirates the plan was clear: Arsenal willingly drawing the visitors in to the their own right corner then shifting diagonally up towards Aubamayeng. This ploy lasted only a few minutes until Palace got to grips with the Gunners’ shape, and the captain eventually assumed a role more akin to a wing-back.
Aubameyang wants – needs – to be playing with as few touches as possible. In a setup of two right-footed players on the left, he’s forced to take more touches infield and seek the simple option. In that position Arsenal need someone who can be involved in the build-up, create advanced triangles and add end product when running at the byline. That’s Tierney.
When teams are stretched Aubameyang can have space to attack as opposed to being forced to create his own. It isn’t his strength as inventiveness and creativity are what he brings to the fore in a finishing sense, not a structural one.
No player has created more chances this season for the club than Tierney, which itself is evidence of his importance to the club. It shouldn’t be the case that the side are now reliant on a left-back who’s suffered with numerous injuries since arriving, is the only one of his ilk in the squad and has to play every game as a result.
There are about four or five players in this squad who if injured would cripple Arsenal. Tierney is among the top of that pile.