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22 Feb 2018

Arsenal: Does Alexandre Lacazette have a future at the club?

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Hopes dashed

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Playing second fiddle

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Not the right fit

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Finding a system

(Photo credit: @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs))

It all started so well. Ninety-four seconds in, a ball in from Mohamed Elneny, a perfectly placed header into the bottom corner. Alexandre Lacazette had arrived.

He raised his arms in celebration with an air of confidence and self-assurance. Here was a goalscorer, at the Emirates, a solution to all the problems of attacking profligacy and inefficacy. 

Now, though, things are very different. Lacazette has endured a prolonged goal drought; that confidence is gone now and replaced by a tentativeness. 

He is also injured and has had his future prospects further disrupted by the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund last month.

Hopes dashed

A promising beginning to life in North London has quickly deteriorated. Lacazette has found the net only nine times in all competitions so far this season and eight of those were scored by early November.

It is unsurprising, then, that questions have been raised as to whether the Frenchman has a future at Arsenal. Speculation has also been mounting that Lacazette could be considered surplus to requirements come the summer.

“He has gone through difficult periods before. He works hard in training, works on his finishing," Arsene Wenger said earlier this month. 

"He will score goals. He is a goalscorer, he scored goals in his whole career. He will score again.”

To score again he will have to play again. Whether or not he will with any regularity between now and the end of the season remains to be seen.

Playing second fiddle

Lacazette was brought in for a then-club-record £46.5 million last summer but that has since been overshadowed by the £56 million purchase of Aubameyang. 

This is concerning for Lacazette for a number of reasons: he is clearly no longer considered the main man; he has evidently not done enough to prove himself capable of leading the line; Aubameyang is a player with similar traits. It seems unlikely, that the two will play together.

The North London derby defeat gave an indication of Lacazette's current state of mind: he was introduced as a second-half substitute and missed two opportunities, the second of which he would likely have scored in normal circumstances.

“He has gone through difficult periods before," said Wenger. "Maybe the confidence is not at its highest because he has seen a competitor coming in for him.”

Not the right fit

As time goes by, though, it seems increasingly likely that Lacazette and Arsenal are not the right fit. 

There are mitigating factors, yes, but this is a player who scored 28 goals for Lyon in his final Ligue 1 campaign and 37 in all competitions. Lacazette has shown only glimpses of that quality at the Emirates. 

There is plenty to admire: intelligent movement, commendable work-rate, impressive linkup play. But it has not, particularly in recent weeks, translated to goals.

Perhaps this is due to the players around Lacazette. Perhaps he has lacked adequate service. The signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan could yet work in his favour but there is a feeling that his chance as Arsenal's No.9 has come and gone.

Finding a system

The January additions have led to much discussion and debate over how Arsene Wenger will choose to fit in his numerous attacking options: will he play a 4-2-3-1, a 4-3-3, a 4-3-1-2? 

The likelihood is that, regardless of which system is utilised, Lacazette will find himself playing out wide, if at all.

He has played there before but, given his prolific rate of scoring in recent years, he is unlikely to be willing to revert to that role permanently. 

For all the issues surrounding Lacazette at this moment of time, however, his fate is not sealed. Wenger's assertions may be genuine and he still has time to prove himself between now and the end of the season. 

There is more to the French international's game than simply scoring, too, although modern strikers are judged on little else.

What could define Lacazette's future at the club, after a scintillating, promising start, is how and where he plays in the final weeks of the season.

Is there a future for Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.