James Benge – Senior Reporter
One could make an argument that Arsenal are suffering more from Hector Bellerin’s absence than they would if you took any other player out of this team but the simple reality is the man Unai Emery is most reliant on is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Last season his goals won the Gunners 19 points they might not otherwise have picked up, this season he has already been the difference maker in the north London derby and in wins over Newcastle and Burnley.
His raw output of 44 goals and 12 assists in 69 games for Arsenal is the stuff of Thierry Henry and Ian Wright, the sort of strikers around whom you build teams.
Aubameyang, however, can do all this without a team designed to play to his strengths. He has been parked out wide to make room for Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe but does his job there without complaint or ego, still popping up with a plentiful supply of goals.
In short when things are going wrong for Emery’s side you always know that Aubameyang is going to come up with the goods, that a moment of brilliance from him might elevate an otherwise poor performance into a winning one.
For all the other fantastic attacking talent Arsenal have there is no-one quite like Auba.
Andy Ha – Live Blogger
It cannot be understated how big a blow Hector Bellerin’s injury was to Arsenal’s top four challenge last season.
With Unai Emery’s system primarily focused on working the ball out wide for the full-backs to provide service into the box, Bellerin’s overlapping runs and comfort on the ball was crucial to Arsenal.
The Spaniard’s return to the first team, along with new signing Kieran Tierney, will be a huge boost to the Gunners’ ambitions of finally returning to the Champions League.
However, in the here and now, with Arsenal often relying on their forward line to bail them out of trouble, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang simply has to be rated as the club’s most important player.
The striker has played every single minute this season, and scored three goals in four games, including the equaliser in the north London derby.
With the addition of Nicolas Pepe to the front line, would you bet against the Gabon international bettering his 22 league goals from last season?
Greg Johnson – Editor-In-Chief
It will be seen by some as an answer that is trying too hard to be clever for the sake of it but there is an argument that Matteo Guendouzi is the most important player for Arsenal this season.
The firepower of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cannot be taken for granted.Neither can the step up in quality when Hector Bellerin is fit to play at right-back.
However, this is not a question of who is the best player in Unai Emery’s squad. Of course the Gunners are worse without that trio. All three are among the best at what they do in Europe.
The issue of making sure Arsenal do what they are supposed to do best as a team is another matter, and Guendouzi already looks to be the midfielder to bring balance to the side with the fewest drawbacks.
Between the creative talents of Dani Ceballos and Mesut Ozil on one end and the tenacity of Lucas Torreira at the other, the 20-year-old is showing himself to be the happy medium to cast doubt on Granit Xhaka’s role in the team.
The ongoing debate around the Swiss midfielder sits at a sweet spot on fan discussion on social media.
His contributions to the team (and they do exist) are just about subtle enough to allow his backers to carry on like chin-stroking connoisseurs when explaining away the many flaws in his game, which are all too obvious for those who can see through the emperor and his new clothes.
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Guendouzi meanwhile allows Arsenal to play on the front-foot as he battles for the midfield or sits back to recycle the ball and cover for gaps.
No, he isn’t the finished article, but with the Frenchman as the nucleus of their mid-section the Gunners stand the strongest chance of playing their best football, and that is what should be important to any modern Arsenal side.
Who is Arsenal’s most important player?
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