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Talking Tactics

Dynamic duos: Aubameyang and Pepe's double threat

Adrian Clarke 21 May 2020
Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal

Adrian Clarke explains why Arsenal's most effective combination comes from both sides of the pitch

Adrian Clarke looks at some of the standout partnerships of the 2019/20 season so far. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe

It is unusual for opposite wide men to strike up a successful partnership, but that is the case at Arsenal 

As inverted wingers who both like to drive inside on to their stronger foot, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and club-record signing Nicolas Pepe have become the Gunners’ most effective duo.  

On the same wavelength 

These two attackers do not play in close proximity to one another on the pitch and only share on average 3.4 passes per match.  

But the quality of their link-up play is extremely difficult for defenders to handle.   

An impressive 17 of 53 successful passes between them, or 32 per cent, have ended with a scoring opportunity for one of them.  

This makes them the most efficient duo in the Premier League for chances created, ahead of Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.

Fewest passes to create chances*
Player 1 Player 2 Combined chances created Passes/chance created
Pepe Aubameyang 17 3.12
De Bruyne Aguero 24 3.29
James Rashford 13 4.31
Salah Mane 19 4.58
Redmond Armstrong 11 4.73

*minimum 50 passes in 2019/20

In 17 Premier League starts for the Gunners, Pepe has produced four goals and six assists.  

While he is inconsistent, he can provide flashes of outrageous skill and inspiration for his team.

The Ivory Coast international's rapport with Aubameyang is full of promise.  

He has three assists for his captain and has created 10 chances for him overall. 

Most chances created for Aubameyang
Player Chances created for Aubameyang
Nicolas Pepe 10
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 5
Alexandre Lacazette 4
Bukayo Saka 4
Calum Chambers 4
Matteo Guendouzi 4
Mesut Ozil 4

This creativity means that Aubameyang knows to gamble with runs into the box.

As soon as Pepe shapes to play an inswinging cross or a slide-rule pass from the right, Aubameyang joins in as a second centre-forward inside the penalty area.

Reading those deliveries earlier than his markers, he scored excellent headed goals at home to Newcastle United and Everton. 

Prior to that, Aubameyang had volleyed home a delightful chip pass from Pepe in December's 3-1 win at West Ham United. 

No one in Mikel Arteta’s squad has supplied as many chances or goals for the skipper as the 24-year-old.

Clarke analyses Aubameyang

Head coach Arteta will be delighted their relationship is not one-way.  

Inside the final third, Arsenal’s captain mirrors the connection by looking out for Pepe popping up in goalscoring positions.  

Perhaps surprisingly, the left-sided Aubameyang has created more chances for Pepe this season than central striker Alexandre Lacazette 

Most chances created by Aubameyang
Player Chances created for
Nicolas Pepe 7
Alexandre Lacazette 4
Joe Willock 2
Mesut Ozil 2

The number of times these two have picked out one another out with crosses or clever angled passes has proved exceptional.

But to maintain and better this, Pepe will need to produce more open-play crosses on a consistent basis.

He has a wonderful left foot, but six team-mates have delivered more balls into the box per 90 minutes than his average of 2.31.

If Pepe can raise that figure then Aubameyang’s pursuit of retaining the Golden Boot will be handed a major boost.

See: Adrian Clarke's dynamic duos in 2019/20

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