Much of Arsenal’s season has been dominated by the ongoing saga involving Alexis Sanchez, with the Chilean set to join Manchester United early this week it seems as though Arsene Wenger and his players can finally move on.
One of the players who may stand to benefit from the aforementioned move is Alexandre Lacazette, who has struggled to set the world alight since arriving at the Emirates Stadium in the summer as the club’s record signing.
Despite his relatively average form of late, the Frenchman has still managed to score 9 Premier League goals already this term.
There is clearly a top quality footballer there, although as yet there hasn’t quite been the requisite football from Arsenal to unlock his full potential.
Lacazette has shown glimpses of his brilliance, his disallowed goal against Stoke at the beginning of the season, whilst not important statistically, showed the Frenchman’s eye for goal. He is an instinctive finisher and should thrive in a creative team.
One of the drawbacks of an unhappy Sanchez this season has been the Chilean’s constant demand for the ball from the left hand side, supporters have noted that he has perhaps then held onto the ball too long and passes haven’t gone to Lacazette in good enough areas.
To replace the Manchester bound forward, the Gunners will receive Henrikh Mkhitaryan as part of the deal and in all likelihood will make a further signing in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Many would suspect that those two arrivals will push the former Lyon striker out of the starting line-up, such is Wenger’s recent aversion to playing two centre forwards, however it will be impossible to keep the Frenchman out of the team, whenever he is substituted the decision is roundly met with derision from the supporters.
One of Aubameyang’s best traits is his speed, this makes him a threat when he drifts wide into the channels, under Thomas Tuchel many remember Borussia Dortmund’s 2015/16 team as one of the most efficient, exciting attacking units in world football.
Mkhitaryan was exceptional from the right and through the middle, Aubameyang provided goals in the centre and the team gelled perfectly.
Arsenal, thanks to Sven Mislintat, may well be onto something similar. Arsenal are a creative team, for all their faults you can’t suggest they don’t create chances for themselves. This will benefit Lacazette greatly in the second half of the campaign.
Things just haven’t dropped for him as yet, he shows a fine first touch and makes space for himself inside the penalty box on numerous occasions, it’s merely a case of the goals drying up.
It could quite easily be a case of settling into a new league, many forget that Thierry Henry only showed flashes of brilliance early on at Arsenal before settling and developing into one of the club’s greatest ever players.
After having failed to find the net since December 2, the relief on Lacazette’s face after scoring against Crystal Palace on Saturday was clear to see, something which Wenger made note of in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.
“It had started to play on his mind; it was very heavy so that’s a relief for him.”
Arsenal played free-flowing attacking football against the Eagles and the speed of the club’s transitional play was a lot quicker, something which suited the 26-year-old. With the imminent arrivals of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang, it’s likely that this change of style will carry on for the remainder of the campaign.
Lacazette’s poor form isn’t the sign of a forward struggling at a level far beyond his capabilities, this isn’t a Park Chu-young situation, he will benefit from being surrounded by more players that play on a similar wavelength to him.
It will take Wenger time to reshape his team with two new arrivals, however there is such attacking talent there that it would be remiss of him not to use it to its full potential.
For Lacazette, his goal-record with Lyon speaks for itself, his record at Arsenal is en route to him reaching 18-20 league goals this season; however it is considerably possible that he will hit his best form in the second half of the season, fans just need to be patient with him.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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