Arsenal fans are currently on cloud nine following the signings of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and they have every right to be excited. Saturday’s performance saw the team deliver some of the best attacking football the club has seen for a long time, with one touch passing, quick movement and speed of thought the order of the day.
Saturday also marked the first Premier League game that Alexander Lacazette has not featured in since he arrived from Lyon. The French marksman was a serial goal scorer before arriving at Arsenal, netting 37 goals in all competition last season. Since his arrival at Arsenal, it’s fair to say that he hasn’t set the world alight, leading to suggestions ( well on the twitter which is not really worth taking serious ) that he could leave the club in the summer.
This is quite possibly the most ludicrous statement you will hear all year. Lacazette has been overplayed at a time when he is used to a winter break, and Saturday’s rest will do him good. It will also give him a kick up the arse and let him know that there’s a new don in town, and if he wants to play, he needs to start performing on a regular basis.
Over the last 22 years, Wenger has famously given players time to settle. Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Mesut Ozil were all given time to find their feet in England. Lacazette has unfortunately been the victim of the transfer mess at Arsenal, with Alexis’ lack of involvement in January meaning he was relied on more than ever, while Olivier Giroud’s eight week layoff also coincided with his goal drought.
Lacazette’s ‘poor form’ may have seen the goals dry up, but his overall contribution to the team has increased, with him getting a number of important assists. With a lack of creative options, aside from Ozil, Lacazette has been forced to drop deep and come looking for the ball, thus reducing the amount of time he spends in goal scoring positions.
With the arrival of Mkhitaryan, Arsenal now have a second supremely gifted creator, along with the return of Aaron Ramsey. Mkhitaryan’s vision and creativity will mean Lacazette won’t have to come looking for the ball, and can focus on the runs he was making at the start of the season, knowing that he has someone other than Ozil to pick him out.
Fans will argue that the arrival of Aubameyang will prevent Laca getting the game time he needs to show his quality, but there is absolutely no reason why the pair can’t play together. Lacazette is a player than enjoys the link up play around the box, then turning and hitting the penalty spot – Auba thrives on getting in behind. Can you imagine the confusion this would cause as defenders try to establish which one to contain?
Wenger has said it’s in Arsenal’s DNA to accommodate them together, and with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-2-2-2, this can easily be done. When Arsenal are most effective, the front four have freedom to move. This was seen last season when Alexis was used as a false nine, and with Lacazette and Aubameyang constantly interchanging with Ozil and Mkhitaryan, this could be one of the most exciting foursomes in world football. Lacazette is going nowhere – top teams need competition, and Arsenal are coming back with a vengeance.