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Could Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heap further misery on tiring Tottenham?

17:04 GMT+3 01/03/2019
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal
The Lilywhites’ performances have dipped in recent weeks, and the Gunners’ top scorer, as well as his teammates, will smell blood

The importance of momentum in any sport cannot be emphasized enough.

For Arsenal and Unai Emery, this weekend’s North London Derby carries massive importance; having been touted as Premier League title contenders throughout the winter, Tottenham Hotspur’s recent reverse in results could see them sucked back into a top-four race...with their bitter rivals...instead. 

Spurs ought to be worried, irrespective of what Mauricio Pochettino may say. 

"I am not afraid," he stated after Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. "I have the same feeling as before.

“We don't care about the pressure of playing Arsenal, Chelsea or Burnley," he added. "We prepare to win."

In all fairness, the Argentine wasn’t going to come out to say his players are feeling the pressure of not playing in the Champions League next season. Privately, though, doubts may start creeping in. 

With only four points separating both clubs, a win for Emery’s side could take them within a point of their city rivals. 

The Spaniard will rely on his frontline, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang especially, if they’re to get anything at the home of the enemy.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | 2018-19 Premier League stats

Even though the Gabon international hasn’t hit the back of the net with the same regularity as he did before the turn of the year, he remains Arsenal's top scorer with 16 strikes in 27 appearances, and his goals will be crucial in determining how high the Gunners end this season.

That’s all the more reason Emery will need his partnership with Alexander Lacazette to return to its 2018 quality.

Even though Emery inherited a difficult job, Gooners were hopeful of a return to Europe’s most prestigious competition after getting frustrated by the quality of football in the Europa League, the competition they’ve been consigned to in the last two seasons.

Frankly, the potential number of goals that can be harnessed from Arsenal’s primary frontmen could be significant to their participation with the continent’s big boys next year, and it's imperative Emery keeps the duo fit and firing.

Against a Spurs side who haven’t hit the heights of previous campaigns under Pochettino in terms of performances, the duo could wreak havoc and make a massive statement on Saturday.

If anything, the 5-1 success against Bournemouth in midweek was perfect preparation for Emery’s side heading into Saturday’s derby.

Not since their 4-1 success against Fulham on New Year’s Day have they scored as many goals, and the stars finally aligned against the Cherries as they ran riot at the Emirates Stadium.  

Particularly refreshing about Wednesday’s display was the performance, which arguably shone through beyond the goals. It fuelled faith in Emery's project and strengthened belief within the fans who genuinely feel the club are returning to their pre-winter form.

However, the lingering sentiment often dished out by critics that the Gunners tend to choke on their away trips against the big sides remains.

Their recent visits to Liverpool (a 5-1 defeat) and Manchester City (a 3-1 loss) brought back memories of disappointing collapses at the home of their major rivals.

Against the league’s top two, Aubameyang was largely anonymous and struggled to get a kick at Anfield and the Etihad Stadium respectively.

Within the club, though, the feeling going into the Spurs game is one with confidence following recent performances and results. Having failed to do the double over their long-standing rivals since 2013/14, this weekend represents Arsenal’s best chance in a while to claim North London bragging rights.

While Pochettino has never lost a home game to the Gunners, recent league games at Wembley don’t inspire confidence. They needed a late fightback to defeat Watford 2-1, had scary moments against Newcastle United before winning 1-0, and conceded an inordinate number of attempts in a 3-1 win over Leicester City.

On the one hand, the limited resources due to their stalled stadium move and dearth in quality substitutes puts the Lilywhites’ season in perspective. The fact Pochettino has them in third having had to find solutions to several issues this year is a proof of his competence.

However, putting in the sort of aforementioned performances which have predictably led to a slump in results – as seen in the 2-1 loss at Burnley and at Stamford Bridge during the week – could prove fatal against an in-form Arsenal side.

Aubameyang and co. will take full advantage of any defensive mishaps in the Tottenham rearguard.

The incentive to reduce what was a 10-point gap only last week to just one will motivate Emery’s team, and the Gabon hitman is expected to lead from the front as the away side seek to throw further confusion into Spurs’ season.

With Manchester United (55) only five points behind and Chelsea (53) seven points adrift of Pochettino’s charges, having played a game fewer, chasing a continental spot, a defeat at the hands of the Gunners could really disrupt a tiring Spurs, who still have to travel to the title challengers – Liverpool and City.

Emery spoke of the ‘big motivation’ of clawing the gap on their fierce rivals to one point, and on current form; it’s hard to look beyond his side.

“We need the players in the first XI and on the bench, and we need a big commitment from every player to help us.” the Spaniard declared.

That’s your cue, Aubameyang.