Alexandre Lacazette arrived at Arsenal in 2017 for £46.5m in the last throes of Arsene Wenger’s reign but in 2018, he was seemingly upgraded with the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£56m) and subsequently found himself playing a bit part role.
Lacazette’s last 9 league games:
⚽️ vs Chelsea
⚽️ vs Cardiff
✖️ vs. City
⚽️ vs Huddersfield
⚽️ vs Southampton
⚽️ vs Bournemouth
🅰️ vs Tottenham
🅰️🅰️ vs United
⚽️ vs Newcastle
— Gunners.com (@Gunnersc0m) April 1, 2019
Perhaps by this time Wenger had lost his ability to make clear decisions, whilst under intense pressure and scrutiny.
The Manager who had introduced such wonderful talent to the fans of the North London club over his 22 years, seemed to lose faith in his fellow Countryman without giving him time to settle or by providing Lacazette with adequate time on the pitch to prove his worth.
His sporadic use may have led to a crisis of confidence and it showed on occasion when he was hooked. Lacazette sometime wore the expression of a disenchanted teenager who had just been told he’d been grounded and had all his play station equipment confiscated.
Rumours surfaced at the time that suggested that Arsenal would even listen to offers for Lacazette after a single campaign but no one bought into that.
Lacazette showed promise after his arrival but he never really lived up to the price tag at the time. Yet that may have been due to the limited role, the instructions he was given or the way the side played around him.
Wenger seemed to favour Aubameyang and despite the two players vying for the role of a lone striker, they developed a friendship and appreciation of each other that is fairly unusual. Yet it still continued to be one or the other and more often that not, Aubameyang got the nod.
Fast forward to the present and Lacazette has enjoyed a fantastic season under Unai Emery, either as part of an attacking front three, front two or as the preferred single striker.
I’m honestly so grateful to have someone like Lacazette at the club. He scores, creates, chases down lost causes from the first minute until the last, brings others into play & is subtly a key figure in terms of leadership. His game is about so much more than solely goals.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) April 1, 2019
Aubameyang may have outscored his French partner but Lacazette has impressed time after time, with his desire, tenacity and ambition. Lacazette is more than a traditional striker, he links the play in attack and also has the ability to finish the move he started.
Lacazette turns and twists defences inside out, creates brilliant individual goals out of nothing and has scorched many a defence with his blistering pace. All these are phenomenal traits for a predatory striker but it’s his work rate that makes him exceptional.
He works tirelessly through 90 minutes and has become a firm favourite with the fans. Lacazette has also proven that he can work well with and compliment Aubameyang and Emery has shown belief in them as a strike partnership, something that wasn’t quite the case under Wenger.
So is he a better player under the Spanish coach ? Undeniably so in my opinion and to some degree, Lacazette is better value than Aubameyang for all the reasons I have already mentioned.
Strikers not only need goals but they need to be be shown trust and confidence from the coach. Lacazette has earned that from the Spaniard. Emery has shown that he isn’t afraid to explore his striking options but these days, Lacazette is more likely to start in whatever formation Emery picks.
Emery hails Auba and Laca:
"Aubameyang and Lacazette, I am very happy with them. They are scoring, they are playing both (roles). In training, I said to them, When I have one ball, I imagine you’ll score one goal, every time. Score, score, score."#afc pic.twitter.com/g2EjS3YL5C
— LTArsenal™️ (@ltarsenal) April 7, 2019
He is allowed a certain sense of freedom to not only prowl the oppositions area but to flow forward with the move and expand the play. This may appear rather unfair on Wenger but the performances have been at a higher level and the returns for himself and others are equally impressive.
Wenger said recently that his health was suffering towards the end of his Arsenal career but I also think his judgement was questionable. It seemed that he had lost a sense of perspective in his choices and that he settled for a similar approach to games with his players.
Emery in the other hand has changed formation and tactics to such a degree that you have more chance of winning the lottery than predicting the starting 11. It’s a ploy which provides extra incentives for performance and has delivered results.
I’m not beating on Wenger for his last season on charge but the fact that Arsenal have already achieved last season’s point tally says something about how stale and tired things had become.
Unai Emery primarily names Torreira, Guendouzi, Aubameyang & Lacazette as the most improved players in the squad. Says Mesut is now doing very well and Leno is improving little by little in goal.#afc pic.twitter.com/n2CFfmejxw
— Gilles 🇳🇬🏴 (@GrimandiTweets_) April 3, 2019
Lacazette will only continue to grow under Unai Emery and with a few key additions, he may be due the season of his short Arsenal career.