Arsenal can look to strengthen, evolve and work on that defence. But if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hadn't signed a new contract, it would have undermined everything Mikel Arteta has tried to do from the very beginning.
Auba final less-than-cryptic message on Twitter with a sand-timer meant his renewal was announced, which is great news for the Gunners, because what he brings to the club both in terms of stats, and also presence, is virtually irreplaceable in this market.
In 2019/20 he was clinical and absolutely essential. He only just missed out on the Premier League Golden Boot, with his 22 goals one short of Jamie Vardy's winning total, while his Goal P90 was sixth-best in the division. Only Raul Jimenez and Jordan Ayew played more attacking minutes for their teams than Auba, highlighting his importance further.
Eleven (50%) of his goals proved decisive - ie a goal that changed the match state into the state in which it finished - meaning his strikes provided tangible points for his team. He's also far from a home boy, with his goals coming relatively evenly, with 13 at home and nine away. His contribution spread, which calculates how many different matches in which he provided either a goal or an assists, is a healthy 49%.
Aubameyang at Arsenal
|% of Team Goals||17.5%||30.1%||39.2%|
You can see his evolution over the past few seasons into Arsenal's most important player. He provided 39% of their team goals in the league, a massive contribution, while his xG is double the most of Arsenal's #2, Alexandre Lacazette. Even from a creative perspective, although that isn't his forte, his xA of 4.49 is second only to Nicolas Pepe.
Beyond the stats, this team needs the continued presence of its leader. Aubameyang's performances against Manchester City and and Chelsea in the FA Cup are prime examples of what he is capable of as a footballer, but also as a legitimate threat to the opposition.
⌛️— Aubameyang P-E (@Aubameyang7) September 15, 2020
Auba is part of a rare breed of forward which threaten the opposition by virtue of his very presence. He is the type of player that interrupts what a team will look to do against Arsenal because they are worried about his pace, stature and ability.
He might be 31 now, but he is still as good as ever, and he shows no sign of slowing down or sacrificing the speed which has been such a key component of his game. He is also a smart finisher too, though, shooting from the right places; his conversion rate of 24% was the second-best in the Premier League behind Vardy.
We only need to look at his curling efforts against Liverpool in the Community Shield and Fulham on the opening day to understand the he is making such a finish - Thierry Henry-like in its execution - his forte.
Arsenal are not in a position now to chase down generational talents. They have no Champions League football to offer and their transfer market ambitions are, perhaps, not what they once where. So securing Aubameyang for the next few years was absolutely integral to Arteta's rebuilding project.
With him in place, Arteta can continue to look at the other areas where acquisitions are required and take this project to where it needs to go.