Alexandre Lacazette had his doubters including his manager early on and has been dropped when he was clearly the man in form at Arsenal. The Frenchman is not prolific as a striker we know that, but he’s recently answered his critics by showing an appetite and willingness to work with Arsenal’s young guns on numerous occasions, and more importantly, he’s back on the scoresheet.
All of this begs the question, will he find himself out of the side when Aubameyang is fit? Surely not. I’m old school (Skool), the man in form should play, what other argument is there and he’s shown his Captain, who has been sidelined with malaria, how to lead a side by example. So, why would he not be the key man in the Europa and Premier League?
I know Lacazette curiously splits the Arsenal fan base, but when called upon at the crucial moment, he’s delivered the goods. When the pressure’s been on and I know there have been a series of duff team performances, he has shrugged off that disappointment to stake a claim, and even in the rout of Slavia Prague, he showed great quality across the pitch by continuously outshining his high profile partner who is in the middle of an unprecedented slump.
What more does he have to do? It’s theoretical of course because we don’t know what’s going through Mikel Arteta’s mind but for the next two or so games, the Frenchman is a must. Lacazette has a fabulous attitude, his temperament is sound, and despite the sometimes unfair scrutiny, he has shown his value to the Arsenal team on more occasions than his counterpart.
This is not an Aubameyang bashing piece but more of a recognition of Lacazette’s qualities that sometimes go unnoticed and without praise. I’m also very much in favour of a Captain who shows spirit to those around him and that offers flexibility in his work.
If I were a convalescing Aubameyang, I’d be worried that automatic selection based on reputation alone might not add up to a swift inclusion. Yes, we have to support players who struggle and no one has struggled more than Pepe, but let’s be clear here, the man in form should stay until there’s a genuine need for change.
Perhaps, a prolonged absence will put some fire back in Aubameyang’s belly to the benefit of the side, instead of plodding through games as a spectator. Captain or not, the team can’t accommodate someone so out of form who doesn’t even look like the same player and with so much at stake, is Aubameyang worth the risk even knowing that he could click at any moment in front of goal.
It’s a gamble at the business end of the season, a delicate balance of team versus player and one that Arteta now has to resolve quickly by establishing his man-management credentials. Like many, I’ve been underwhelmed and disappointed by our number one striker and the reasons for this massive slump may have something to do with his recent illness and personal family issues, but that to one side, can he find the form Arsenal desperately need at this time.
That’s the million-dollar question and it’s not an easy one to answer at the moment. I would have said that an Arsenal side without Aubameyang would have been doomed to failure but it appears that Arsenal are starting to function without him quite easily, which would have been unthinkable a year ago.
I’m not dismissing the captain entirely but I’m raising the question, does Aubameyang have the right to drop back into this side without showing 80% of what he has in his locker, especially when his striking counterpart, Alexandre Lacazette, is in firing form. For me, the answer is No.