Can Alexandre Lacazette end his barren spell?
Background image: Wonker, CC BY 2.0.
Alexandre Lacazette is a player known for the occasional strop during matches, often when being substituted. During the 1-1 draw against Sheffield United, the Frenchman threw yet another act of frustration after being hauled off for academy product Eddie Nketiah 15 minutes from the end. It was an act which ran much deeper.
The 28-year-old is currently undergoing a pretty bad spell in front of goal. It is now eight league games since scoring - his last coming against Brighton at the start of December. As a result, his future at the Emirates is now being called into question.
With Nketiah back from his unsuccessful loan spell at Leeds hoping to prove a point under Mikel Arteta, and Gabriel Martinelli continuing to impress in his first season in the English top-flight, Lacazette's position as Arsenal's main frontman is under serious threat.
It may have been an unfruitful season for the club last campaign, but for Lacazette on a personal level, it was an unforgettable one. Scoring 19 goals and assisting 13 in all competitions, he was awarded Arsenal's Player of the Season award, becoming the sides chief scoring force and arguably their most influential attacker. The striker had been as affected as anyone else by the collective decline that ultimately cost Unai Emery his job.
Lacazette's contribution towards Arsenal's gradual resurgence under Arteta can't be overlooked despite his poor run in front of goal. His sumptuous assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in their 1-1 draw away to Crystal Palace was further indication to how vital the Frenchman is to Arsenal's attacking play.
The way in which Lacazette holds off his marker bringing others into play, his strength, tenacity and energy when pressing from the front and his never-say die attitude are characteristics that have endeared himself to the Arsenal supporters. Though, when in poor form, snatching at chances and failing to finish off intricate passing moves, you can almost forgive the fans for turning against the former Lyon man. There is always going be pressure when eading the line for Arsenal, especially when you cost the best part of £50million. Now, there will be even more stress with his pal Aubameyang serving a suspension.
There is the argument that in order for Lacazette to improve his form, he must focus less on trying to accommodate others, overworking himself in regards to dribbling, tackling and putting others ahead of himself. He must become more ruthless and selfish when through on goal.
Sure, Lacazette has certainly evolved in recent seasons, no longer is he an out-an-out striker latching onto the end of passes, or playing on the shoulder of the last defender. These days, he's a complete forward who is more involved in the attacking build-up. Whether its a good or a bad thing, remains to be seen, though it's certainly affecting his abilities to score regularly.
More than anything, it's a lack of confidence and sharpness that has defined his difficulties this season. Though, he may not far away from hitting top form...
No striker in the world, let alone Europe is immune from a barren spell. It is noticeable that, in terms of his statistical output, the Frenchman has barely dipped from last year. Lacazette is creating more chances for his teammates per game and providing more key passes in comparison to last season [WhoScored].
Perhaps it is unfair to judge him solely on his goal scoring. It's become clear that there is more to him than meets the eye. His all-round game and defensive work from the front is earning as many plaudits as his goalscoring output. While Aubameyang is viewed as the predator, Lacazette contributes more and the ability to bring the best out of the players around him is a somewhat rare commodity.
He needs the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli, Mesut Ozil and Reiss Nelson to improve the consistency in their chance creation. It's not a huge worry when you're striker is squandering chances, it is a worry, however, if you aren't on the end of them.
Lacazette may be lacking his predatory instincts in front of goal right now, but he is offering so much more. He holds the character, drive and personality to reignite his goal-scoring prowess. Patience - a rare commodity in modern-day football - is certainly required.