Arsenal: Better with Alexandre Lacazette, but dropping not wrong
Alexandre Lacazette is enduring a difficult run of form. For that reason, Mikel Arteta would not be wrong to drop him, but the Arsenal team is better with a firing Lacazette in it.by Andrew Dowdeswell
Alexandre Lacazette was not named Arsenal’s Player of the Season for nothing. In fact, such were the quality of his performances that even in a year that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang co-won the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals, Lacazette was still named the Gunners’ best player.
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In fact, Lacazette actually scored fewer goals in 2018/19 than he did in the previous year. 13 league goals for an apparently elite centre-forward is not especially inspiring. So why was it that Lacazette was named the Player of the Season and not Aubameyang or another?
Well, the Frenchman provides a lot more to the team than just goals. Lacazette also provided eight assists last season. They are just a peek into the other elements of his all-around game. His creativity, his hold-up play, his pressing, running the channels, industrious work-rate, the intelligence of his movement to create both space for himself and those around him. Lacazette is more than just a goalscorer. That is why his value to the team goes far beyond basic statistics.
It is also why Arsenal are a better team with him than without him. For all of his incredible goalscoring exploits, Aubameyang is not as complete a striker as Lacazette. His touch is inconsistent, his passing is inaccurate at times, he lacks the body control and positioning to hold off defenders and protect the ball. Lacazette’s ‘twerking’ that he is often ridiculed for is a good thing, and it is something that Aubameyang cannot replicate.
However, while Lacazette’s value to the Mikel Arteta system is immense, as the striker is often tasked with dropping into midfield to link up the attacking play, something he excels at, in recent games, not only has his goalscoring been problematic, but his overall play has suffered also. And it leads to the question of whether his place in the team should persist.
At his best, Lacazette will be one of the first names on Arteta’s teamsheet. He is a brilliant player and is critical to the overall attacking balance of the team. But currently, Lacazette is not just not at his best; he is nowhere near it. In fact, if he plays as he did against Burnley before the winter break, he will be an active hindrance to the progress of the team. Arteta, then, has a decision to make.
Ultimately, whether Arteta chooses to persist with Lacazette or drop him should be dictated by what he feels is the best way to get Lacazette back to his best. Arsenal are at their best with Lacazette firing. Getting him in a place where he can flourish, therefore, should be Arteta’s primary goal. But does that mean you drop Lacazette for a couple of goals or ride out the poor form in the hope that he can turn it around?
There is no obvious right answer here. There are valid arguments to be made on either side. Ultimately, however, Arteta has to find a way to get Lacazette back to his best. Arsenal would be much the better for it.