Aubameyang hitting his stride
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's career took a while to take off, but now that he's up and running the Gabon international is showing no sign of slowing down. He has even set his sights on outgunning Zlatan Ibrahimovic…
St Etienne's lightning-quick striker scored 16 league goals last season after completing a permanent switch from AC Milan - and he already has five this term.
"It's going pretty well. I'm happy with my performances. When you have a team and a coaching staff that believes in you it helps. I feel good at Saint-Etienne so it was always likely to go well."
'No extra pressure'
Attackers sometimes find it difficult to reproduce their form after a prolific season, but Aubameyang seems to be taking the added attention in his stride.
"I knew expectations would be high, but I haven't put any extra pressure on myself," Aubameyang tempered. "I just try to play my game, don't think of that, ignore what people are saying and just continue from last season. I want to prove that I'm a real goalscorer - a true striker - and I'm very determined. I've already said several times I want to do better than last season, which means scoring more than 16 goals. Anything more than that would be a bonus."
Aubameyang should get a good service. New signing Romain Hamouma has begun in impressive fashion, clicking with the 23-year-old striker both on and off the pitch.
"We get on well and we have clicked very quickly," the pacy forward revealed. "I used to watch him play when he was at Laval because that's where my family is from and I go there when I have a free weekend. I really like him as a player so it's great he's playing for us now; he's a top bloke as well with a really good attitude. He has plenty of natural ability so things are going well.
"There's him, Max Gradel as well. He set up another goal for me the other weekend, even if he didn't really mean it as a pass. We get on really well and I'm definitely going to be counting on Romain to set me up, but I'll also try to give him a few goals too."
Gradel and Hamouma will have to give St Etienne's hitman plenty of ammunition if he is keep apace with his idol Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the current Ligue 1 top scorer with nine goals from seven matches.
"I like him a lot as a player. Everyone knows him from Barcelona, Inter and Milan, he's a top quality footballer, a great striker," Aubameyang said. "What I like about Zlatan is that he's a really big guy, but he still has an incredible touch."
Like Ajaccio's Adrian Mutu, Aubameyang has set himself the daunting challenge of finishing above Ibrahimovic in the scoring charts.
"It's going to be tough! He has made a great start. I'm not trying to follow him, I'm just doing what I can. If I score more than him then great, and if I get the same number that would be good, too. But it's more the people around me who are talking about Zlatan. For example, my brother said, 'you've got to score more than him'. We'll see at the end of the season."
In the meantime, Aubameyang is hoping that the home fans in Saint-Etienne's notoriously raucous stadium will continue spurring their side on and help them develop the strong home form they will need to fight it out among the top places this season.
"We want to make the most of our home advantage this season," he explained. "We need to get as many points as possible at home because we have great fans. They make you even more motivated and they give you a lift. Hopefully the fans will galvanise us when we play at home."
With the supporters roaring the team on, and Aubameyang hitting top gear again, Les Verts could take some stopping this season.