Alexandre Lacazette could be seen saying something to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before his penalty against Manchester United, and the 29-year-old has now revealed exactly what it was.
Just a week earlier, Aubameyang had failed to score a match-winning penalty against Tottenham Hotspur. Though there were mitigating circumstances, as he certainly would have put in the rebound without Jan Vertonghen’s ridiculous levels of encroachment into the area, the striker was still clearly left feeling disappointed with himself.
Then, against Manchester United, Arsenal won another penalty. Most supporters were hoping Lacazette would take it on this time around, but the Frenchman himself had other ideas, as Aubameyang explained afterwards.
“This friendship is really really strong,” Aubameyang said. “Straight after he fell down, he looked for me and said, ‘You shoot. You have to be focused and you shoot’.
“It’s a great partnership and, of course, the coach decides who plays and whether we play together or not. And we have to accept that, that’s normal. But I think we are both really focused on playing for the team and giving our best.
“We don’t care about who is shooting the penalty, the most important thing is to score. After Laca got the penalty and looked at me, I felt good and I was ready to score because we are having a good period with the team and everybody said that I would score again.”
Crucially, Aubameyang says he learned from his mistakes the previous week. Rather than looking back and forth between the goalkeeper and the ball, he kept his focus fully on David De Gea.
“I made a mistake against Tottenham, looking down at the last moment, not watching [Hugo] Lloris, but today I watched until the end and being focused you score a penalty,” the striker continued. “I know where the ball is and you have to practice this all the time, and today it went in! I knew that it would be tough, but I was feeling confident.”
Other than the actual penalty-taking technique, the most important thing when stepping up to the spot is that you believe you can score. Spot-kicks are as much a game of nerves as anything else, so knowing that you have the support of your teammates takes the pressure off a bit.
We’ll have to wait and see who takes the next penalty, now that Aubameyang has had his pick-me-up from Lacazette. As the striker says, as long as it goes in, it doesn’t really matter either way.