When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed for Arsenal in January 2018, many people questioned whether this was already the end of Alexandre Lacazette’s Gunners' career, despite the fact he had only joined five months earlier.
However, after a full pre-season and a change in leadership, the Frenchman is Arsenal’s main man upfront at the moment, making the single striker position in Unai Emery’s favoured system his own with Aubameyang having to settle with playing out wide.
Despite scoring 14 goals in his debut season, Lacazette went into this term with questions about whether he could settle into the Premier League. But so far this season, he’s shown he has a number of attributes that make him currently one of the best strikers in England.
Making the difference in tight games
Lacazette’s record for his former club Lyon in Ligue 1 of 100 goals in 203 appearances, showed why supporters were excited to see him move to north London. Now, the Frenchman is starting to show the clinical form and finishing which could see him replicate his statistics from his time in the French top flight.
Arsenal have been involved in many tight games so far this season, and on a number of ocassions the Frenchman has scored key goals that have swung the result in Arsenal’s favour.
Some key examples being his clinical curling finish at home to Everton, his powerful close range winner away to Cardiff and his calm and collected equaliser against Liverpool last weekend.
Excellent link up play
As well as being excellent at finishing off flowing Arsenal moves, Lacazette has also shown a great ability to start and continue attacks with his strength and ball control. Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torriera, who now play as a regular pairing in the Arsenal midfield, have the ability to play quick forward passes, both long and short, which helps the Gunners attack at pace, but those passes would be wasted if they didn’t have a striker who can back into his markers and allow the rest of his team to move up the pitch.
As well as claiming assists, four in his last 18 Emirates Stadium starts, Lacazette has shown he can assist teammates assists on a regular basis, which could be one reason why at the moment Emery prefers to play the Frenchman upfront rather than Aubameyang.
Fantastic work rate
Another great asset of Lacazette’s game is his tireless running and hunger to win back possession. With Emery favouring the 4-2-3-1 formation, there are times when Arsenal are outnumbered in midfield, and when Mesut Ozil starts in attacking midfield, the other forward players must always be ready help out defensively.
The 27-year-old has shown already this season that he isn’t afraid to do the dirty work many strikers don’t like to do, winning back possession high up the pitch with intense pressing or chasing back into midfield to put pressure on his opponents.
Last February Lacazette was forced to miss six weeks of the season after an operation on a persistent knee injury. Since then, as well as having a full pre-season after missing out on France’s World Cup win, the forward looks fitter and sharper, and if he can continue his current form and stay out of the treatment room, Lacazette will play an extremely key role in a successful first season for Unai Emery, and also in seasons to come.