Alexandre Lacazette was named Arsenal’s player of the year last season having won 35% of the fans vote. His contribution of 19 goals and 13 assists in all competitions will have played a huge part in him securing the accolade but its his desire, passion and industry that has seen him earn a place in the hearts of the Gunners’ faithful.
When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined the club in January 2018 many feared the swoop for the Gabonese striker would have a negative impact on the Frenchman’s Arsenal career. Instead, the sharing of the load between two very talented strikers has created a foundation on which both can flourish.
Who should lead the line?
There continues to be a debate around which of the pair should occupy the position through the middle and it seems as though Unai Emery prefers to use Lacazette through the centre with Aubameyang providing support from the left flank more often than not. So why is that?
Often when teams set up against Arsenal they will opt for a low block, meaning space in behind the central defenders is minimal and so Aubameyang’s blistering pace is in many ways nullified. Subsequently, the ability to play with your back to goal and bring others into the game becomes a far more valuable trait. Alexandre Lacazette has the ability to turn on a ‘six-pence’, work space for himself and produce the type of devastating finish we saw in the North London Derby.
Naturally, whichever of the two occupies that position will be marked tighter and commands more attention from the central defenders. Whereas when operating from a wide starting position you can isolate the full back, occupy the position inside of the right or left back and if the central defender does feel the need to come out to you, you’re creating space through the middle for your team mates to exploit.
Equal talent, but two very different players
Two extremely talented strikers who’s roles within the team are defined by their specific strengths and attributes rather than their overall talent which you could argue is almost equal.
Lacazette’s ability to battle, hold the ball up and work in tight spaces gives him the edge in terms of that central position, particularly when playing at home but Aubameyang’s willingness to do a job for the team out on the left should not be undervalued.
Aubameyang’s willingness to compromise without displaying any public discontent is partly down to his close friendship with Lacazette, the man currently occupying what he will no doubt feel is ‘his’ position.
The ‘bromance’ and competition between the pair has been of a huge benefit to the football club and if Arsenal are to return to the Champions League, keeping the pair happy and ensuring they continue to push each other will be key.