For years upon years, Arsenal fans have been crying out for a mobile striker that can run in behind defences and be clinical in front of goal. Ever since Thierry Henry scandalously left the Emirates, many have come in to fill his void, but all have failed. The only striker who came close to replicating the legend’s form was Robin Van Persie, but even he could only give Arsenal one decent season before he moved on to greener pastures. But now Arsène Wenger may have just found his man in the form of Alexandre Lacazette.
Perhaps finishing outside the Champions League places was the best thing that could have happened to Arsenal. It’s given the club a massive wake-up call and kicked them out of cruise control. Now the club are breaking transfer records and making structural changes to the coaching staff & members at board level.
For £46.5m, Alexandre Lacazette represents a new age in football. An era where prices are inflated due to the nature of the market. He’s Arsenal’s record signing, and he’s a symbol of hope that Arsène Wenger may finally be changing his way to suit the modern game. Regardless of the price, Lacazette fills a hole in the team that’s been missing for years now. The team plays better when a fast striker is at the heart of the attack.
Look at how Arsenal performed in the earlier part of last season with a mobile striker, Alexis Sánchez led the line for half the season, and the Gunners were unstoppable. As soon as Arsène Wenger decided to deploy the Chilean back on the left wing, Arsenal’s attack began to wane.
The Chilean was able to return his best goal tally (31) ever because he played the majority of the season up front. Much of this was down to the support behind him and the way Wenger sets up his teams.
With Mesut Özil in the team, Arsenal need a pacey striker up front that plays on the shoulder of the last defender. The German facilitates movement in the final third with lane splitting balls that open up defences. Özil cannot effectively show his passing range, as he did at Real Madrid, without a quick striker in front of him, a striker that stretches defences and travels down the wide flanks too.
And Alexandre Lacazette is a player that was born to suit that role. In 200 appearances for Olympique Lyon, the Frenchman scored over 100 goals. Last season, Alexandre Lacazette possessed the best conversion rate (38.9%) in Europe’s top 5 leagues for anyone who had scored over 20+ goals. In the end, he was able to score 28 goals in just 30 league appearances.
On top of that, the 26-year old maintained an impressive 65% shot accuracy, while creating 46 chances for his teammates. Such stats only highlight how well-rounded the striker is and how easily he’ll acclimatise to Arsène Wenger’s style of play. A style of play fundamentally based on passing & moving at quick speeds.
The infrastructure at Arsenal needed for Lacazette to thrive is already present; they have the creative players in Granit Xhaka and Mesut Özil who can supply Lacazette with constant through balls. His stats suggest that he’s clinical enough to take advantage of that supply. So, it’s more than likely that the Frenchman will take Arsenal to heights they haven’t reached since Thierry Henry was at the club.
Nobody expects Arsenal to achieve anything next season, so with no pressure or Champions League football, this is the perfect time for the Gunners to reach the pinnacle of English football once again.