It is usually at this stage in an ordinary season that Arsenal fans are meticulously studying the fixture list to work out what results are needed to make the top four.
But this is no ordinary season.
The deadly coronavirus pandemic has caused football to be suspended indefinitely, and Premier League chiefs are urgently trying to figure out how to finish the rest of the campaign.
Despite football coming to a halt, Gunners fans still have something to worry about with the future of their star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in doubt.
The 30-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the 2020/21 season and there has been no news over a possible extension.
Inevitably, a host of top clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona have been linked with an interest in the former Borussia Dortmund man.
But more interesting developments in recent days have suggested Chelsea are considering a shock summer swoop for the forward.
Blues boss Frank Lampard is on the hunt for a proven goalscorer this summer – and who better than Aubameyang?
He has scored 49 Premier League goals since joining Arsenal in January 2018, but is yet to be rewarded for his brilliant form with any silverware.
In light of these rumours – which will no doubt make Gunners fans feel queasy – we at talkSPORT.com believe a switch to the other side of London may just be the best thing for Aubameyang in this stage of his career, and here’s why…
If Chelsea swooped in to sign the Gabon international, they will have signed one of the most lethal marksman in world football – and thanks to our friends at Opta, we have the stats to prove just that.
Aubameyang signed from Borussia Dortmund for £56million in 2018, and despite having a reputation as one of the world’s most clinical strikers, many questioned whether he could cut it in the Premier League.
But since his arrival in England, only Mohamed Salah (51) has scored more Premier League goals than him (49).
He also ranks in fifth for minutes per goal in the top flight’s all time list – scoring a goal at least every 124 minutes – with only Sergio Aguero (107), Harry Kane (121), Thierry Henry (122) and Salah (124) bettering his record.
This season, he has the second best conversion rate in the league (26 per cent of shots find the net) – only Jamie Vardy (32 per cent) boasts a better rate for players with at least five goals.
Top scorers in Premier League since Auba’s arrival
Mohamed Salah – 51 goals in 76 matches
P-E Aubameyang – 49 goals in 75 matches
Jamie Vardy – 47 goals in 74 matches
Sergio Agüero – 42 goals in 61 matches
Sadio Mané – 40 goals in 74 matches
Should he score in any of his next five Premier League games, Aubameyang will be the sixth-fastest player in the league’s history to hit 50 goals in the competition.
What’s more, any potential suitor looking at Aubemayang can see his form doesn’t seem to be slowing despite the fact he will turn 31 in two months.
He looks as fit as ever and rarely gets injured, so offering a lucrative short-term contract should be a no brainer for Lampard if he doesn’t want to spend big on a foreign striker who hasn’t proven themselves in the Premier League.
Linked targets such as RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner and Lyon’s Moussa Dembele are undoubtedly talented, but there is always a risk that they struggle to adapt to the pace of the division.
With Aubameyang, there is no such risk. He is guaranteed goals and the perfect man to spearhead Chelsea’s attack.
Van Persie effect
“Right now, he’s at Arsenal, and he’s won nothing here, so it’s a collective failing,” Pierre Alain Mounguengui told ESPN.
“I don’t want to say that Arsenal aren’t ambitious, but Arsenal don’t have ambitions as high as some other clubs as far as Europe is concerned.”
Whilst no one can question Arsenal’s commitment to become an elite side in Europe once more, they simply don’t have the resources to do so.
The club is now in it’s third season without the Champions League and a fourth is looking a certainty following this season’s disappointing campaign.
Aubameyang’s contract uncertainty has striking similarities to that of Robin van Persie’s before his much-maligned Emirates exit in 2012.
The Dutchman, who was 29, had one year left on his deal and a host of top European clubs began to circle.
Despite defiantly insisting a new contract was never offered last week, he subsequently moved to rivals Manchester United in a £24m deal.
He went on to win the Premier League in his first season at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson, scooping his second consecutive Golden Boot in the process.
There is no question that Aubameyang will know how successful his move proved to be. He will know that Van Persie was desperate for silverware as he closed in on the tail-end of his career and he could be persuaded to follow suit.
Yes, Chelsea are levels behind the standards of Man City and Liverpool right now, but they are the most successful club in England over the last two decades and they have an owner who relentlessly ploughs money into the club to ensure it remains competitive.
Five Premier League titles, a Champions League trophy, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two Europa League trophies have all been won by the Blues since 2003.
At Chelsea, Aubameyang will know he has a much better shot at winning something – just look at Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas and Olivier Giroud.
A project to believe in
There is no question that Arsenal are going in the right direction under Mikel Arteta and signing Thomas Partey would be a great statement of intent in the summer, but the current Gunners squad is streets behind Man City and Liverpool and also significantly worse than Chelsea and Manchester United’s.
It has also become alarmingly clear that the lack of Champions League football in recent seasons has cost the club dearly.
In January, the board made it clear that they could not afford to sign anyone on a permanent basis, while rivals United signed Bruno Fernandes and Liverpool sealed a move for Takumi Minamino.
The club forked out huge amounts to sign Nicolas Pepe last summer and despite showing signs of promise, he has ultimately had a disappointing first season at the club.
As it stands, Chelsea have the best chance to make the Champions League spots for next season, with three points separating them and Man United – though question marks remain over how the campaign will end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Aubameyang will be aware that Chelsea are keen to make some signings this summer given the fact they were banned during the same period last year.
A deal for Ajax star Hakim Ziyech has already been agreed whilst moves for other top talents, including Jadon Sancho, have been mooted.
With Chelsea likely to play in the Champions League next season and some star names linked with the club, a switch to west London would be hard for Aubameyang to turn down.
A move to Chelsea would also see Aubameyang become the focal point of the team.
Mikel Arteta – just like his predecessor Unai Emery – is trying to squeeze both him and Lacazette into the line-up and it is having a detrimental effect.
The Gabon ace is being forced out wide to compensate for Lacazette and performances are suffering as a result.
Yes, he still scores plenty from out wide but at Chelsea he will be the the main No.9 without having the burden of looking over his shoulder.
With tricky wingers Ziyech and Christian Pulisic on either wing and Aubameyang up front, the Blues would boast one of the very best attacks in the division.
His arrival would make him the second truly world-class player at the club, alongside N’Golo Kante, and he will relish the opportunity to be the main man at Stamford Bridge.
And Lampard would also get the added bonus of having a perfect mentor for Tammy Abraham.
Abraham has had a great debut campaign for Chelsea having scored 13 goals in the Premier League, but he is far from the finished product.
If the more accomplished Aubameyang teaches Abraham a few tricks of the trade then the Englishman could become a world-class talent for years to come.