Opinion – Why Thomas Lemar could still be a perfect asset for Arsenal

This Is Why Arsenal Want Thomas Lemar

by Agboola Israel

Thomas Lemar was once one of the most sought-after young players in the world. He was among the main creative threats of the 2016/17 Monaco side, raking in goals and assists every other match. Arsenal wanted him. So did Liverpool. And both had huge bids rejected on deadline day.

Three years later, Thomas Lemar has had his big-money move to Atletico Madrid and it’s been nothing to write home about. Diego Simeone has constantly protected him from criticism. But after two seasons of middling performances, the Argentine head coach seems to be finally fed up. Speaking in a press conference ahead of a La Liga fixture against Levante, he opened up on the 24-year-old:

“The facts speak for themselves, better than words. It is certain that he has not been able to show all his qualities… Each time that he has been available, I have tried to play him. I have always been enthusiastic about his qualities as a player. He has not met the expectations set for him, but we have always had the same expectations. Today, who is to know if he will stay or not… His representatives are working hard. The clubs, they, operate on what they need.”

The point is clear: Thomas Lemar has not met expectations.

What has gone wrong with him? Has he lost all of his creative thrust and talent like Alexis Sanchez? Can he ever return back to his Monaco peak?

The main problem seems to be that Atletico Madrid has not been very suitable for him. The main system of pressing that Simone’s team come up against is teams copying their formation, pressing high and marking man to man. Often enough, they crowd out the middle where Atletico have excellent midfielders and then seek to send blocks of three or four men after whoever has the ball out on the byline. This chokes Atletico’s ball progression and when the wide players are forced to pass the ball back, the other teams usually push up to cut out the passing lanes out wide and keep the middle compact.

The obvious strategy that Simone employs against this pressing system is to bring the wide players inside and create overloads in the middle in order to disrupt the press. When Koke or Saúl are on the flanks this isn’t an issue as they’re more than happy playing through the middle. Lemar though struggles in the middle of the pitch as he’s a winger who is great at beating his man and putting lethal balls into the box or running into space, not playing in the midfield.

This is backed up by Thomas Lemar’s statistics. His key passes made, once one of his biggest strengths, dropped from 2.55 to 1.82 and now at a pitiful 0.90 per match. His per-90 contributions to spells of possession have been halved since his breakout season. He averages less than 1 shot and 1 key pass per 90 minutes now. He has completed 90 minutes only once over his 15 appearances. As this analysis of him put it: his game is aging at a rate beyond his years — and continued subpar performances leave him at risk of a short, unfulfilled Atlético Madrid career.

Is there anything that Thomas Lemar is still good at, then? Yes, there is one.

His pressing can be unbelievable. Highly rated by the soccer analyst community for his defensive workrate, he has been declared a pressing monster.

Still just 24 years old and having played in both an expansive and restrictive system across two leagues, we can see how Thomas Lemar can fit in Arsenal’s new high-pressing attacking system. Credited by both Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane for their impressive improvement, Mikel Arteta may be optimistic about how he can help the former prodigy rediscover his game in England while he remains an extremely useful option when the team does not have the ball.

If he can be acquired for cheap from Atletico Madrid, Thomas Lemar can very well become Arsenal’s own Mohammed Salah, a star that needs to be reborn under the right coach and the right system.

Agboola Israel

21 Comments

  1. Mogunna says:

    That’s all you can write about in such critical time? You have money to buy players?

    Then, get us what we need for ages, a top CB, Koulibaly! Klopp states in interview that Arsenal can fight for title the day they solve their defense issue as we done!

    We have no need for lemar today, he plays on left flank as attacking midfield, what does that bring us with no defense?

    Get that topic out of here, we are 6points from relegation!!!

  2. Thomaskelly says:

    Swap lacazette for lamer because lacazette is so bad he could not score in a brothel

    1. Sean says:

      They can give us some money on top of Lemar

  3. antonioro says:

    It is time to face the truth-we are a mediocre team,with mediocre players,a mediocre coach,a cheap owner and an”opera” fan base.The perfect recipe for mediocrity and relegation.No style,no fight,no clues-just an imense deception.Tired of the uglyness,tired of the lack of direction.Can’t believe,after 4 manager’s change,people still believe the hope of Arsenal is the useless Ozil.Or the primitive Xakha.Same recipe,waiting for different results.We will never challange for performane with Kronke as owner.The only chance for performance is a different owner,willing to spend money,big money.Till then,just “ enjoy” this ugly,hard on the eye style of football.With seasons ending(already) fee games after starting and bunch of dreams and hopes killed on the process.Just sell the entire team(except Martinelli) and call it a day.Too much trouble supporting an utopia-team…

    1. antonioro says:

      @Phil-you must be an Ozil’s worshiper,plenty of them around here…don’t forget the acuse “ you are a plastic fan”…tired of that just facing the truth…

      1. antonioro says:

        Constantinople is burning and the unconscious discussing the angel’s sex…

    2. SueP says:

      I really struggle to maintain a modicum of respect for people who write posts like that
      What do you expect of our ‘mediocre manager’ after a handful of games?
      Get real instead of such nonsense
      Judge Arteta after a year at least

      1. David Braithwaite says:

        The post is unfair on Arteta as he has had limited time with the team. I am sympathetic to his views on the players as I too do believe many of these players are not good enough. The two players he has mentioned are still key members of the team and as long as they remain so I can’t see Arsenal being an elite club any time soon.

  4. Reggie says:

    He aint going to be aquired cheap and we haven’t even got cheap money.

  5. AUBA_14 says:

    Buy Lemar from Atletico with Lacazette going the other way, get a good CB and you’ll be challenging for that 4th spot. The team we have today is just not ready for that.

    1. GB says:

      4th has gone, we are closer to relegation than top 4.

      1. SueP says:

        Meaning that we are heading into the Championship?

  6. Websurfer says:

    Thomas Lemar is not a topic for Arsenal. First of all, we do not have the money to buy him in this window and why should we buy a player that does not play good at all and has not done it for a very long time.

  7. Sean says:

    Lemar to Arsenal, Laca the other way plus some money for us. Martinelli can lead a line and he is only 18… he plays he scores! Simple as. Nketiah there also for back up as Auba the main man up top.

    I’d sell Laca and give our Capt a bigger contract and his last big one. I dont see him doing an Ozil as he will always get you a goal. Pepe just hasnt worked YET, in time you never know.

    Lemar Auba Pepe

    Isnt that bad considering we would be losing a big player like Laca, well a big player in our ranks anyway.

    Xhaka needs replaced and we need a Top CB before we are anywhere near the top4. I do trust in Arteta and same as Unai he will be given time until next summer at least. He needs to have his own squad going into next season.

  8. Liam says:

    For the next two games I would suggest playing with Pepe upfront. His ability to beat his man has become alot more consistant and his pace would be a nightmare for defenders, he would also be looking at goal not with his back to it like laccazete who can’t out run most cbs.

  9. Zero goals and assists for Lemar in 21 games this season. Why on earth would we want this deadwood??

    1. antonioro says:

      Lemar is for Atletico Madrid what is Ozil for Arsenal-a deadwood sucking big money for doing nothing…

  10. Sue says:

    OT.. Woohoo, Isaac Hayden’s goal sinks Chelsea 👍👍

    1. AY75 says:

      Yeah! 💪🏾 hope someone’s goal sinks Liverpool tomorrow…. I don’t care whose 😁

      1. Sue says:

        Me too, AY75!! It can ricochet off Firmino’s teeth for all I care, just as long as it goes in! 😜

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