You are here
Home > Arsenal > Profiling Arsenal’s Strikers | Who Would be the Best Choice Centre-Forward for the Gunners?

Profiling Arsenal’s Strikers | Who Would be the Best Choice Centre-Forward for the Gunners?

Arsenal, centre-forward, reinforcements,

After a dominant 4-1 win against Leeds United on Saturday, Arsenal moved into the top 4 of the Premier League table. The Gunners were playing their fourth straight game without the services of Aubameyang. A strong performance from Martinelli yet again brings up the question; who is the best-choice Centre-forward for Arsenal?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:

The Arsenal captain has been Arteta’s preferred choice for the centre-forward role this season. The Gabon international has 4 goals and an assist to his name as well. However, Aubameyang has failed to put up encouraging performances against better opponents: Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. Even in games where Arsenal exercise control, Aubameyang is scarcely involved in the build-up. In fact, he averages fewer touches per 90 minutes than Aaron Ramsdale and Bernd Leno.

This is because the ex-Borussia Dortmund front-man is best suited for the CF role in a counter-attacking team. His skill-set isn’t well suited for a possession-heavy side. Aubameyang is reliant on his speed to beat a man and needs space to function. His play with back to goal also isn’t great.

Back in the Bundesliga, Thomas Tuchel realized this and played Aubameyang as a left-winger with Reus playing through the middle. In games where Arsenal control position, Aubameyang is often disconnected from the rest of the team. His inability to bring other players into play and create spaces is also visible. Mikel Arteta’s men often struggle to make in-roads against a low-block.

Arsenal centre-forward, Aubameyang
(Photo by CATHERINE IVILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In games where Arsenal have less of the ball and look to play on the break, Aubameyang suffers. This, however, is the fault of the system rather than the player. Arsenal’s midfield is pinned too deep into their own half without the ball. Upon regaining possession, the Gabonese striker often lacks support or a passing man and runs into traffic. The disconnect and space between the attacking and midfield line hinder Arsenal from playing effectively on the counter.

What sort of a style best suits Aubameyang then? The North London Derby gave us the closest example. Tottenham Hotspur aimed to push bodies into Arsenal’s half throughout the game. However, they did not attack with enough intent or structure to cause the Gunners enough problems. This meant two things:

  • Arsenal had a lot of space ahead and behind Tottenham’s defence to transition effectively.
  • Smith-Rowe, Saka and Odegaard were not pinned deep enough. Arsenal had many options for Aubameyang to pick out while playing on the break.

However, Arsenal mostly come up against a low-mid block. Against such a system, Aubameyang isn’t the ideal profile for Mikel Arteta’s side

Alexandre Lacazette:

Lacazette has often been deployed as an SS behind Aubameyang in a 4-2-3-1 role. The Frenchman has played as a centre-forward for Arsenal in the last 4 games – Everton, Southampton, West Ham and Leeds United. He has scored 2 goals in the Premier League so far.

Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal centre-forward
Image obtained via

The French striker does not offer the same pace that Aubameyang does. Aubameyang also takes a much higher volume of shots. However, Lacazette’s hold-up play is much better than the Gabonese forward’s. He is better with his back to the goal and in tight spaces. His biggest struggle has probably been his interpretation of the “9” role. Compared to Aubameyang, Lacazette often drops into the midfield during the build-up. This acts as a double-edged sword:

  • Pro: Lacazette dropping deep helps Arsenal generate numerical superiorities in midfield.
  • Con: Lacazette dropping deeper is not complemented by another teammate occupying the number 9 position. This allows the opposition to execute a higher line defence. An opposition centre-back also has the option to abandon his position and track Lacazette’s movement.

All in all, Lacazette helps Arsenal retain possession better and improves the build-up, but as a number 9, the ex-Lyon centre-forward does not provide enough of a threat in front of the goal.

Gabriel Martinelli:

Gabriel Martinelli has been used by Arteta largely as a winger or an inside forward. The Brazilian can beat his man on the dribble and get in behind opposition defences. His close control still requires work, but Martinelli is good at bringing his teammates into play with his back to the goal.

Gabriel Martinelli,
Photo by Yannis Halas/via Imago Images

Martinelli as a 9 could provide a more well-rounded option than Lacazette or Aubameyang. The Brazilian however, has struggled to provide consistency or sustained periods without being injured, which is corroborated by the fact that he started five successive Premier League games for the first time in his Gunners career against Leeds. While he could be a more complete option as a centre-forward for Arsenal, Martinelli’s goal-scoring prowess and link-up play are undoubtedly inferior to Aubameyang and Lacazette currently.

Read More:

Exploring Other Options:

Folarin Balogun has outgrown the PL-2, he has 14 goals and is the top scorer of that league. The young centre-forward is looking for a loan move, reportedly to the Ligue 1. While the Englishman does have exciting performances, it is wise of Arteta not to rush him into the first team. Balogun could try and garner some minutes in the Cup or as a substitute option in the Premier League occasionally.

Arsenal could also experiment with a False 9 option. Martin Odegaard or Nicolas Pepe could be experimented with for that role.

Stay tuned to know more about Arsenal.

Adithya Ravi
Football enthusiast. Stat enthusiast

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.