Looking back on 2018/19, Arsenal fans would be hard-pressed to pick one standout moment that summed up what their season was all about. But what most Gunners fans wouldn’t dispute is that the relationship between their two certified hitmen – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – was blossoming and undoubtedly the best takeaway from the club’s campaign last year.
In attack, everything good revolved around the deadly duo – whether it was Europa League hat-tricks, North London derby belters, or that now-iconic handshake celebration, the pair struck up a potent partnership which saw them notch 50 goals between them.
The pair ooze the sort of elite quality that would see them slot into the same standard of sides that last donned an adidas kit for the Gunners, like the one back in 1988/89’s title-winning campaign. Aubameyang’s ex-provider-in-chief at Dortmund, Henrikh Mkytaryan, will also be serving up the goods for the pair all season long in 2019/20, and it’s clear all three have as much on-pitch chemistry as they do off it when we meet.
Touching down at a discrete location basking in the Californian sunshine, the trio are on a natural buzz ahead of the new season, bouncing off each other with plenty of dad jokes about the difference in weather compared to London, alongside the now-familiar usage of London slang from their recent adidas campaign for the club’s new home shirt.
Pulling up in their three own very distinct styles, it’s clear they’re all in their element and raring to go with another season under Unai Emery and new first team coach Freddie Ljungberg. We joined them during their pre-season preparations to talk through their lethal link up play, life in London, and a fresh start with fresh drip while launching the club’s new away strip out in LA.
Complex: What do you guys think of the new kit? Did you enjoy starring in the kit launch advert for it, and what did you think of how the campaign came out?
Alexander Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The kit is dooooope!
PEA: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah, the kit is dope. The graphic on the away shirt is mad this season, and I think the campaign is good. We did some great videos, I think they came out really cool. It pops nicely, I’m really looking forward to wearing it.
Pierre, you won the Golden Boot last season – do you think you can do the same again in 19/20?
PEA: It depends on these guys! No, but I’m really happy to have won the Golden Boot. I have to be thankful for the service. Next season, why not? It’s my goal to score goals. But I think it’s this guy’s time to win it [grabs Lacazette’s shoulders]!
Alex, do you think you can match his stats last season?
AL: Oh yeah, easy.
You and Pierre have great on-field chemistry. Do you guys hang out off the pitch?
AL: Sometimes. We speak a lot on the phone, but we spend a lot of time with our families. But as you can see, we are good friends both on and off the pitch – and that is good for our respective games.
How do you find life in London? What are your favourite things to get up to in your spare time in the city? Do you feel like more of a Londoner now since joining the club?
AL: It’s cool, it’s a big city so there’s always lots to do.
PEA: Lots of shopping! You can find everything here. You can catch me on Sloane Street a lot. I mean apart from the weather, everything is great! (Laughs)
Do you three feel like you’re all proper embracing the London lifestyle now?
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Oh definitely. I feel at home here.
AL: For me, I always feel French. I always have that French style with everything I do. I have a little bit of London in me now, because I can speak English now. A little sprinkling of London. But London is my home, for sure. I’ve been trying to learn the London accent after the campaign, though.
PEA: That’s what I’m talking about bruv! (laughs)
So you’re all clued up on your London slang now after the advert and spending time in the dressing room with Hector and Alex Iwobi?
AL: We use it in the dressing room quite a lot now. Ainsley and Hector have been teaching us.
HM: Yeah with those guys, Alex and a few others, we can really improve our English. But not just our English, we know our slang too.
PEA: And that is flames bro! (laughs)
Pierre, fans have just seen your car has been wrapped in a metallic chrome graphic. Have you always wanted to stand out with your style, on and off the pitch?
PEA: I’ve always been doing that since I was really, really young. Whether it’s my clothes, my cars, whatever – it has to be loud.
Alex, We’ve seen you donning some Billionaire Boys Club and Stone Island in a recent Instagram post. What are some of your favourite brands at the moment?
AL: I like wearing BBC because no one is really wearing this. I like wearing it because you don’t really see many people flexing in it. Stone Island is also just a classic, cool brand.
HM: I don’t have a favourite brand – I just wear what I like. I keep it classic, that’s why I’m wearing the suit today – even though it’s with a jersey and running shoes! (Laughs) I’m a classic sort of guy.
What do you guys think of Aubameyang’s style? When was the last time you saw him wear something that wasn’t bright?
HM: Never! Probably the only time he’s not is in training this morning! That was the only time he wasn’t shining. (Laughs) Even if he’s not wearing bright clothing, he still shines on the pitch, though.
In terms of football, you recently said that it’s important for Arsenal to win big trophies again, and not just the FA Cup. What trophies and competitions should Arsenal be competing for?
PEA: First of all the Premier League, and then I would say the Europa League as well. We have another chance to reach the final again after last year – and I would say let’s go again – but this time, to win.
Do you feel you have the squad to be able to do this?
PEA: If we did this last season, I think we can do it again this time around.
HM: We’ve developed as a group. We’ve stayed together and developed as a team, so I really believe the connection will be better next year. We’re going to be playing under Unai Emery for another season, and we’re going to carry on learning about the way he wants us to play, which is gonna be big for us.
Pierre and Henrikh, you spent a lot of time together in German dressing rooms. Does the music in the dressing rooms in Germany compare to over here?
PEA: Not a lot different actually, because in Germany I was the DJ, and at Arsenal… I am still the DJ! Well, sometimes. We switch it up quite a lot though. Rob (Holding), Shkodran (Mustafi)...it changes a lot, which is cool .
Pierre and Alex, do you bring much French rap into the dressing room? Who are some of your favourites?
AL: Oh yeah, we do, big time. Vegedream gets played a lot. We stick on a lot of Booba, too. There’s loads more I can’t think of, but any chance I get, I’ll play French rap. There’s enough German rap played out by Shkodran (Mustafi), so I always try and stick on that type of stuff.
What do you enjoy the most about playing with each other? Was the chemistry there from day one?
AL: Yeah, from day one. For me it was especially cool, because I watched them play together at Dortmund while I was playing at Lyon, so it was easy to adapt my football to them. We are all different types of players, and we work well together as a result.
HM: It’s always good playing with classy players. We understand each other well – we know how we’re all going to move step by step.
PEA: As I said before, personally for me, I just have to run! When you have players like these guys playing with you, they make it really easy for me to score goals.
How does life differ in London to in Dortmund? Do you prefer it in London?
PEA: Yeah of course!
HM: But the two are just not really comparable. Too completely different cities. London is a big, metropolitan city, whereas Dortmund it was a much smaller city – there weren’t many things to do, so you just focussed on football. London is cool because you can get to other cities like Paris and Amsterdam a lot quicker – in Dortmund it took so much longer.
And finally, what are your targets for next season?
AL: Win some trophies, and get back in the Champions League.
PEA: Yeah, exactly that.
HM: What they both said! (Laughs)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexander Lacazette and Heinrikh Mkhitaryan wear Arsenal's new 2019/20 Away Shirt, available to cop now from adidas.