Connect in the back of the net

It was reported a couple of days ago, that Arsenal, after a number of rejected bids, finally have secured their summer target Alexandre Lacazette.

The man wanted by the majority of top clubs in Europe made a bold switch to Arsenal, despite no Champions League. Lacazette put pen to paper and signed a five year deal, making the Frenchman Arsenal’s most expensive signing of £52 million.

 

The striker Arsenal fans have longed for

Efficient, gifted and a marksman, Lacazette is the clinical striker centre-forward we have longed for since Van Persie moved to Manchester United over four years ago.

Olivier Giroud has put many shifts in at striker, but was never consistent over the years, despite his critics. Giroud has been a lightning rod for the fans’ frustrations and the consensus on him is he is a very good centre-forward, who is capable of flashes of inspiration.

His scorpion kick against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day was one of the best goals of last season and there have been other crackers, including the sumptuous touch and finish against West Ham United in April 2014.

However, Giroud is not world class and he has been damned by the perception he is not quite good enough; that he is not the player to help Arsenal become the best in England.

 

How will he be utilised?

I expect a solo forward role for Laca who will be able to energise Arsenal’s attack and keep opponents’ defenders occupied with his hard running and incessant harrying of the ball.

Alternatively, in a 4-3-3 formation Lacazette could be utilised freely across the front line having spent his younger days as winger. More than just a penalty-box striker, the Frenchman would bring a degree of fluidity and variety to Arsenal’s attack.

Lacazette’s wide palette means he would be able to adapt easily to working with the more direct Danny Welbeck and even compatriot Olivier Giroud – should he stay. He has the pace to keep up with the club’s quicker players, but the clarity of thought to take a step back and wait for the chance to come.

The main talking point would be if the Frenchman can feed off Ozil’s cutting balls throughout the season, if the pair can establish a formidable partnership on the pitch. Lacazette’s success at the Emirates could possible rely on the German.

There is no mystery over how Lacazette and Lyon’s Nabil Fekir, a left-footer with a hint of Özil about him, hit it off so well at the Ligue 1 club.

If Wenger can encourage Ozil and the French forward to work closely within each other’s orbits, then there’s no reason Arsenal can’t become a formidable attacking force next season.

 

Versatile

Lacazette’s hold-up work improved greatly last season and Arsenal are getting a striker who can pretty much do it all – apart from dominate in the air.

A converted right winger, he can play off the No 9 as well as in the No 9 role and he is defined by his movement off the ball, work rate, pace and technique, as well as by his goal instinct.

He loves to get into the box with little one-twos and the comparison that has done the rounds in English football circles has been to Ian Wright.

More fleet of foot than Giroud, he will bring a different dimension to Wenger’s formation, whether it be 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 or the 3-4-2-1 seen in April and May.

 

The question marks

Lacazette’s critics say if he were world class, he would have left Lyon years ago and they also argue his statistics have been inflated by the number of penalties he has scored.

Of his 129 goals in all competitions for Lyon, 23 came from the spot. Hence the unkind nickname “Penalzette”.

Physically, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the Premier League and one thing is very clear – the pressure on him will be huge, particularly if Sánchez is prised away and the team have to replace his goals and assists.

Does Lacazette have the x-factor? Can he bring it to Arsenal? All eyes are on him.

 

Written by Giovan Hayer

Follow Giovan on Twitter @GiovanH

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