The Lacazette conundrum – Does he just need confidence?

THE ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE CONUNDRUM by Funsho

Class, they say, is permanent; but form is temporary. No matter how long a patch of poor form lasts, supremely talented footballers always end up showing their class. From playing for their countries, to returning from an injury lay-off, to moving to a new club, the best players in the world often tend to be the most adaptable by reaching their topmost level somewhere along the line. In fact, in the case of club transfers, if things work really well, the classiest players end up defining an era like Bergkamp at Arsenal, Cristiano at Real, Cruyff at Ajax/Barcelona, Maradona at Napoli and dare I say, Ronaldinho at Barcelona.

While not necessarily in the class of the above-named players, Alexandre Lacazette’s £46.5m 2017 signing probably promised better than has been realised at this point. And off the back of a fantastic final season with Lyon, Laca was seen as a top centre forward who could transform into world class status at Arsenal; but so far, he hasn’t reached those heights. In all honesty, he is a team player, dependable in the big games, shows so much passion on the pitch, presses relentlessly, has a good hold up play in him to bring others into the game and has even scored a couple from set pieces. In spite of the afore-mentioned good qualities, his form usually gets plagued by factors largely beyond his control, and that’s the focus of this write-up.

First off, Lacazette has never been the main man at Arsenal like he was at Lyon. With Sanchez still in the team at the start of the 17/18 season, and Aubameyang coming in the same month that the Chilean left, our number 9 wasn’t particularly the focal point of the attack. He was also unable to win the full trust of either Wenger or Emery as the team’s best goal-getter, and he’s a kind of player that thrives on the pressure of taking centre stage. Getting substituted by Wenger for Giroud around the 60th-70th minute mark, and getting dropped by Emery for important games like the one at Anfield last season would have done his confidence no good at all.

Moreover, our 18/19 player of the season’s Arsenal career has been punctuated by injuries, reduced game time and goal droughts. For example, he had a surgical procedure in 2018 after missing a late chance against Sp*rs, and some have attributed the miss to that injury. Also, he hardly lasted the ‘full-90’ in the 17/18 season, and Arteta’s preference of Eddie Nketiah at times this year also further limited his game time.

On the goal drought matter, Lacazette’s missing of the few chances he gets is multifaceted in its cause but may be due in part to his shooting technique. He doesn’t seem to get the right balance between SHOT POWER and SHOT ACCURACY. Apart from his superb off the ball movement, Aubameyang is better at either placing the ball far beyond the reach of the keeper (3rd goal vs Valencia (A), 18/19) or aiming to just shoot it at pace past the goalkeeper (vs Burnley (H), 18/19).

Several times, Lacazette sees his shot blocked by defenders (vs Brighton (A), 19/20; he went for power instead of placement) or saved by goalkeepers (header vs Leicester (H), 19/20; if he’d placed the ball right/left of Schmeichel, it would have been a goal). Yet, this may be more about the self-doubt in his mind rather than the shooting technique itself. Conversely, and on a positive note, his NLD goal last season was a good depiction of what he can do when he gets the balance right. The shot was whipped from the edge of the box into the top-left corner. If it had been closer to the middle of the goal post and/or slower than it was, Hugo Lloris could have saved it. With a boost in confidence and more ball work, Laca’s goal return will easily improve drastically.

Lastly, dwelling in Auba’s shadows (like Benzema did for Cristiano) and the false-9 (like Firmino) role appears to be another reason for Lacazette’s meagre goal return – only 12 last season. It’s undeniable that his hold-up play helps to make space for Pepe and especially Auba, but at the same time, it prevents him from more consistently getting into goal-scoring positions.

As was said earlier, Laca is a very useful player, no wonder Juventus and Atletico Madrid appear to be interested in him. Still, the dilemma is that, if Lacazette leaves, Aubameyang may struggle with hold-up play, and if we can’t fashion chances through wing play and via through-balls from midfield, Laca will be sorely missed. Alternatively, if Lacazette stays, he can get better and improve his goal scoring stats.

In any case, a supporter can only hope, and as was said in the kit launch video for last season: for an Arsenal fan, it’s the hope that kills you. Either way, over to you Señor Mikel Arteta.

Really appreciate you taking the time to read.

Funsho.

46 Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    Lacca should stay and announce gabriel for us

  2. katagawa jamil says:

    laca should be sold to get best players and more money

    1. RSH says:

      best logic on this thread haha. short and to the point.

  3. Shortboygooner says:

    ITS TIME TO GO!!

    no more nostalgia. We want world class players. He is not world class. I rate willian as a winger more than I di lacca as a striker. Move him on get the money get TP and put lacca upfront. This is arsenal not some mediocre small club (spurs).

    1. Rashid80 says:

      Laca is mediocre?
      I guess youre the same kind as RM fans who didn’t know how important Benzema was to their system and always called for his head.. Laca plays the exact same role for Auba as benzema did for Ronaldo! You think Auba is gonna be doing a better job in the middle surrounded by defenders? Keep dreaming! Auba thrives on the spaces that laca creates!

      1. RSH says:

        how does laca play a benzema role? You are just saying this because Auba outscores Lacazette. Benzema does not sit nearly as deep as Lacazette does.

        1. Beastmode says:

          Did you consider Laca dropping to the mid is because of what MA requires of him? Laca is no different than Firmino or even Benzema. Since we don’t have play makers, our attack goes thru the wings, and Laca’s purpose is to pull the CB away from helping the fullbacks.

      2. ahmad73 says:

        Laca and Benzema should not be mentioned in the same sentence. Laca makes me miss Giroud.

    2. Martin says:

      Well said my friend, you have sense

    3. Declan says:

      Move lacca on and also put lacca up front?🤪

  4. Joe Allysons says:

    Great article man , bravo. I guess I agree with all you said , but not all of it in the same light.

    Laca played with Sanchez at a point when Arsenal was looking for a more mobile than Giroud attacker through the middle. He is a goal machine when asked to do the job, but he’s never really been asked to do the job.

    See , since the dawn of Thierry, arsenal have depended on the left sided attacker predominantly to look for goals. Even at the time when we depended on the likes of Adebayor and Giroud, you notice that almost immediately , the coach went out and got someone to hit our opponents on the left.

    Laca’s goal return has suffered as a result of this sort of club tradition, but make no mistake, the quality of his play has still shone through.

    I’m not of the belief that Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta haven’t trusted him. I’m of the view , that they’ve trusted him to do a job that has often been interrupted. Wenger had him for a year and a half, in which period , the strike partners were chopped and changed , so he couldn’t get his rhythm going. Unai , is the one coach I could credit for getting the most out of the Laca-Auba combination . Playing them as a twin striking partnership in the Europa League, Laca did a good job of supporting Auba on the way to the final. Laca however came into last season with a niggly ankle injury that kept him out of the beginning. He did struggle to return from it , but it does seem like he is getting back.

    About his finishing, make no mistake brother, he is an exquisite finisher . He and Auba just have different, but both highly effective ways of finishing. You can’t really say one is more lethal than the other, one just gets more chances.
    Thing is , like you mentioned, Laca ,in his supporting role gets fewer shooting chances than Auba. That is because , it is specifically designed to be like that, and I think he’s happy to do that. It shouldn’t be about personal glory. Denis Bergkamp was an amazing finisher , but he had to accept a supporting role to help Thierry score more. It doesn’t mean he was a worse finisher , I’d actually say Denis was a better finisher than Thierry. The tactics simply were built such that we could get more for the later.

    This case is the same. Laca is a great finisher. There’s so many scenarios where I see Auba miss a goal that Laca would surely have scored and the reverse is true. That’s why you need both of them.

    I guess on that point I’d say, with limited space in the box, defenders hacking down,where more than two touches might be required in the box to score, I’d trust Laca over Auba. He just has the composure and passion to withstand 3 or 4 challenges and still rifle the ball into the top corner. On the break, with a long-ball over the top or a through-pass that splits the opponents defense open, where we are likely to have a footrace and a goalkeeper to beat, I’ll trust Auba. And to be honest, We will be presented with both scenarios this season, so I want us to have the tools for both.

    1. Isaiah Okorogbudje says:

      This is a stellar comment. To be honest you’ll simply laid the whole scenario here even with the eye-catching examples offered. Truth is as you’ve earlier asserted, Arsenal Can’t overemphasized the need for us to have both Auba and Laca and definitely we’ll need both their tools to thrive.

    2. Protiq says:

      if we want laca act like striker we need to play him as a true number 9 not as a false 9

    3. ozziegunner says:

      👍 Joe, an excellent comment on an excellent article by Funsho. In addition to drawing defenders away, Lacazette can play with his back to goal, whereas Aubameyang needs the ball to his feet in front of him. They are complementary players.

  5. kev says:

    Arsenal are looking to activate Thomas Partey’s release clause. They may have to sell but as said the player is 100% committed to coming. It’s all in Arsenal’s hands now. Don’t let any contradicting stories tell you different. Remember how it was said months ago that he was set to sign a new contract??

    Arsenal are looking to sell the ff if good offers coming in: Bellerin, Sokratis, Rob Holding
    Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac, Ozil, Torreira, Guendouzi, Elneny, Lacazette.

    Interstingly, AMN told Arteta he didn’t want to leave anymore but Arsenal are open to selling him. It might sound ridiculous but so did same when I said seasons back that Jack Wilshere had agreed to a new contract but would still leave Arsenal. Thankfully Wilshere confirmed that in a video before he left.

    Hopefully Gabriel Malghaes gets announced today.

    1. kev says:

      Aouar’s first choice isnt Arsenal rather Juventus. Arsenal may be interested in Donny van ve Beek but he’s not our first choice. The club is also looking at Thiago Alcantara.

      1. Joe Allysons says:

        @Kev. I really think if we have to choose between Aourar and Alacantara, if we can genuinely get one of the two , we should go for Thiago. Thing is , if we get Thiago, we finally have a viable option that can allow us to not have Xhaka on the pitch. He can defend , can pass , and can dribble. Couple that with Partey and Willian infront of them , and you have a very fluid midfield . It’s odd that I’m probably the biggest Granit Xhaka fan , but my excitement is in the fact that Thiago is just better than him at everything he does. He has a better short and long passing range, better first touch, better reaction to press, and he is experienced. Granit would remain a great second option off the bench or something, but if we got Thiago, that would be orgasimic. The mistake most people are making is they are . In Thomas Partey , we are going to get someone to play the role that Ceballos played even more effectively. Thiago would play Xhaka’s.

        1. kev says:

          Nice thoughts there. Don’t buy into false stories of how Arsenal don’t want to activate his release clause or have been priced out of a move due to salary and the like. You saw what happened with Gabriel and even Saliba who was claimed to be hijacked by Spurs. I prefer Aouar out of all the three due to potential but Thiago may be the best of them all. I for one don’t rate Xhaka and I think Arsenal should look at Bennacer and see what they missed out on. He is an upgraded combination of Torreira and Xhaka combined. A huge mistake to not re-sign him. AMN is also another who had he been developed properly from 17/18 would’ve been a starter today. Complete player.

        2. Quincy Okereke says:

          Did I read you say not have Xhaka on the pitch.. glad you are not the coach mate.

      2. ahmad73 says:

        Apparently there was a report that Koeman wants van de Beek at Barca. If true then we have no chance to land him.

        1. RSH says:

          there are also reports that he prefers a move to EPL. We’re going through the rare period of time where Barca looks unattractive.

          1. Ahmad73 says:

            You are right. Even Messi wants out. Real mess!

  6. gunnerforlife says:

    Laca should stay. His hold up play and high pressing helps Auba come in from the wings and score. Also we dont have a experienced striker for big match days and Laca’s presence is a must for important matches. As for his goal scoring I am sure it will improve this season.

  7. FoSulli says:

    Realistically we couldnt get a striker as good as Laca for the money we would get for him if we sold him

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍 Too true. Similarly what will Arsenal get for £20 million as a replacement for AMN?

  8. Martin says:

    So this hold up play, dropping deep to collect the ball, playing back to goal and drawing defenders away from Auba, Pepe et al, makes him a good 9. I am sorry but I disagree with you, if every player across the EPL, Championship L, L1, L2, who does a certain job is good than we have too many champions. Well is good to quote something you pick up somewhere, but it takes skill to put in perspective. You need to proof the result of his play of Laca, Now I would say the reward factor would be a good indication of how effective this play is.
    I would say that the rewards can be the following
    1. Goals scored for this
    2. Assists for this
    3. Chances create for this
    4. Games won for this
    5. Big impact moments, than chance games
    6. Win the league and Cups
    7. Qualify for Champion league or Europa
    8. Actual pick up EPL ward like for assist or chance create, or even a team one
    9. At least making EPL top list for assists or chance create in this 3 years
    Now I would say that there is some level of achievement and even in 1 or 2 case some brilliant moments, but the stats is telling us that even this play of Laca is average, and you can even say below average
    The next step is look at the actual play of the player himself and that will tell you why the stats are so low.
    1. He turns the ball a lot of times.
    2. He get involved in fouls, he has the second high fouls in team after Xhaka and that as a striker.
    3. So time he does control the, but most of that times he take so long the opportunity is gone but the time he is in full control of the ball.
    4. And at a very low %, the results for this play.

    Now if anyone is tell you that Laca is a good striker and not an average striker that one is lying to you because evidence is not supporting that. Sorry everything about this guy is average, goals score, assists, chance created, control the ball, even holding it up, high pressing, not even talking about the fact that you can’t use him as a target man, his too short, and this as well hit a big hole in his hold-up play.
    The fact that Wenger bought Auba just 6 months after he signed Laca, tells me that Wenger realise that Laca was a mistake just months after he signed him, I don’t tell me he bought them so that they could play together, because he didn’t use them together.
    I will put the cherry on the cake for you, the amount that Laca will go for if he goes, will be of an average striker.

  9. Larry says:

    Hi Arsenal fans,
    football is a team sport and I weigh the pros and cons regarding Laca. His work rate is always impressive. For me, the pros outweigh the cons, so I hope Arsenal keep him. He knows the Arsenal system and has a great partnership and relationship with Abama. He definitely needs his to rediscover his confidence for scoring. Assuming he does, Arsenal will benefit with a one-two punch.. Pepe needs to step up this season and Martinelli is just returning from injury..

  10. Khadii says:

    Firmino does a similar job to what Laca does, by dropping deep and opening up spaces for Salah and Mane. And in the process scores way less goals than those two.
    Yet you hardly find Liverpool fans complain of his output cos they know d job.
    Some Arsenal fans just don’t get it.

    Giroud hardly had a shot on Target for france during the world cup, but he was so instrumental in their victory cos Griezman and Mbappe played off him.

    Its all down to the coach and his setup.
    Arteta knows best what he wants from his top 9.

    1. RSH says:

      lacazette is not even nearly as effective as Firmino. So many of us think our players are way better than they actually are. If this is the case why’d we get 8th???

    2. RSH says:

      Firmino’s linkup play- vastly superior
      Firmino- way faster
      Firimno- starts tons of counters,
      Firmno- goal scoring record
      Firmino controls the ball better, faster on the turn, makes more intelligent passes, constantly drags around the CB’s (laca not mobile enough to do this). There’s just no comparison.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        RSH, swap the teams they play in and how would the performances line up between Firmino and Lacazette?
        I am not arguing one is a better player than the other, just comparing who plays behind them.

  11. jon fox says:

    Great detail quite out of the ordinary in this fine article. I so appreciate a writer who thoroughly makes his point in such close detail. I am torn about keeping LACA FOR THE REASONS THAT FUNSHO EXPLAINS SO WELL.

    Good to see that you cut out the OVER flowery language in this article too Funsho. A certain amount though, does add individual style. I do admire your ability to write so interestingly!

    1. Nigeria says:

      Any deep analysis of Laca circumstances will reveal he’s beyond average. I don’t know how Arteta wants to do it, but I’m having this feeling Arbu will not thrive in the middle as he does in the flank.

      Laca
      Arbu ———— Pepe
      Tierney — William– Thomas – Bellerin
      Gabriel — Luiz— Saliba
      Martinez

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Sorry, but that midfield will be overrun, without the ball.

  12. RSH says:

    Sell, espescially if we can get close to 35mill for him. He has 2 years left, hitting 30, is declining, and we have younger strikers that can be given a chance over Laca. Plus, we ALSO have Aubameyang to go centrally if necessary. There’s no reason to hold onto Laca if we get a good deal. A lot of people are way too sentimental about players that are not going to get us to an elite level. People want change, and new players, yet dont want to sell the old ones. There is a small list of untouchables on our squad and Lacazette is 100% not part of this list.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      RSH, unfortunately “a good deal” is the operative phrase. Can anyone guarantee in this day and age will get one and then use the money wisely?

  13. Mohsan says:

    He should be sold, that area of pitch is well covered for us. If have Auba, Nkeitiah has been same number of goals as Laca and we have best prospect in club Martenelli who plays same position. Sell him and invest money on other weaker positions. Give more playing time to Martenelli in that position so in season or two he can spare head out attack. I just want to see front three of Saka, Martenelli and pepe terrorising football defenders for years to come. I think we are in good position for future out defense is young with Gabriel, Saliba and Tierney. offense is young as well. So as long as we can keep hold of them all and keep developing them we have a all the tools to be dominant in near future. Keep AMN and Guendozi as well. In 2-3 years time if we keep them all with addition of a talented and gifted AM we will the team to beat.

  14. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    Hmmm. What is the consensus then on this Gooners megaphone forum of JustArsenal on whether Lacazette should be retained but not be sold this summer by Arsenal? From what I can deduce from the opinions made by the Gooners is, most of the opinionists who have registered their opinions on this matter believe Arsenal should take advantage on Lacazette being still sellable in the transfer market this summer and cash in to sell him to the highest bidder.

    But one thing I believe could happen if Arsenal decided to keep Lacazette this summer is, he will ask Arsenal to extend his current contract at the club that has next summer transfer window left on it to run as security guarantee for him to remain at Arsenal to not sell him this summer. But will Arsenal give him this guarantee? Or they will prefer to see him run down his contract at the club and leaves on the free next summer? Whichever the matter falls to, I don’t think Lacazette will be the loser for it. Rather, I think it will be a win win for him.

    One other important issue us Gooners should take into cognizant is, if Lacazette happens to leave Arsenal this summer, the club MUST sign a replacement to him. Who in my opinion should have a better ratio of goals scored and assists given returns than Lacazette has had for Arsenal. But where will Arsenal get a better than Lacazette to sign this summer? If they find one he will cost the club big amount of money to sign him. But Arsenal are still planning to sign a new DM and a creative midfielder this summer window. Whose signings will cost Arsenal a lot of money to sign them. But the club have only £100m transfer kitty to do their war chest signings this summer. And for Arsenal to sign the Gooners popular choice Thomas Partey this summer could involved the club coughing out £45m to Atletico Madrid before they can get hold of him according to media reports. Maglhaes signing has cost Arsenal some £25m to sign him. By the time Maglhaes signing is officially announced by Arsenal and if they sign Partey,, they would have spent the total sum of £70m on 2 new player signings. This will leave the club with only £30m left to do the signing of a new midfield playmaker possibly either from the Ligue 1 club sides Lille or Lyon or Bayern Munchen’s Alcantaral if media reports are to be believed. But maybe the signing of a top quality grade striker by Arsenal this summer who will guaranteed scoring 30 goals in all competitions for the club next season is the reason behind Arsenal deciding to sell Bellerin and AMN this summer to raise at least £70m from the duo Gunners sales to enabled them sign a new top quality grade striker. But will it not be a mistake that is equivalent to negligence committed by Arsenal if they sell their highly pacey right full/wing back Bellerin this summer? Where are Arsenal going to find a replacement to him if they sell him? The AFC squad player Cedric Soares 28 won’t be adequate to replace Bellerin 24 if he’s sold.

    1. jon fox says:

      SAMUEL, you clearly disagree with those many Gooners, like me who see no use defensively in BELLERIN at all and want him sold ASAP. He has never been a reliable defender andif you can’t see that then you are not as bright as I had previously thought.

      What possible use in an ambitious club is a defender who for several years already has shown a complete inability to defend properly?

      1. ozziegunner says:

        jon, with a bit of luck the interest from PSG will come to fruition and Bellerin will be strutting the catwalks of Paris.
        If Arsenal sell both AMN and Bellerin, that leaves only Soares. Hopefully Arsenal will look at a young proven replacement like Max Aarons from relegated Norwich City.

  15. Beastmode says:

    Did you consider Laca dropping to the mid is because of what MA requires of him? Laca is no different than Firmino or even Benzema. Since we don’t have play makers, our attack goes thru the wings, and Laca’s purpose is to pull the CB away from helping the fullbacks.

    1. Quantic Dream says:

      Didn’t Giroud do just that but we still kicked him out anyway? Let’s stop making excuses for Lacazette. He is turning into the new Ozil.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        QD, that’s the harshest criticism of Lacazette I have read, particularly when he has suitors ready to pay for his services, whereas Ozil does not.

        1. Quantic Dream says:

          @Ozziegunner
          Okay it was a bit harsh but Lacazette has not turned into the 20-25 goals a season CF we were crying for when we chased Giroud out of this club. We need a CF who bangs them in like RVP used to and like Kane and Vardy do for their clubs.

      2. Muxikl says:

        The moment Laca requested the no.9 on his back he became doomed. I have said it several times, Arsenal should rest the number 9 shirt. It has destroyed many good players including a world cup top scorer Sukur, Laca can try to put on a different shirt number may be his fortunes will change. Who can forget Edwardo, what happened to him? Baptista, the list is long!. it can not be explained scientifically but it a valid issue.

  16. ozziegunner says:

    Atletico Madrid wants Lacazette and Arsenal wants Partey. Each player has a transfer valuation, thus the two clubs only have to negotiate the difference in player value.
    Unfortunately Atletico Madrid want to keep Partey and sign him to a new contract, so want the full amount of the buy out clause up front. AM may miss out on Lacazette, because Arsenal has to sell to the highest bidder to help pay for Partey, whereas it could be a win win.

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