It would be wrong to suggest Alexandre Lacazette is the ‘forgotten man’ at the Emirates Stadium. A player of his quality cannot fade so quickly from the football consciousness.
What has been forgotten may be just how much potential the French striker possesses, and the importance placed upon his arrival at Arsenal last summer.
Lacazette’s signing was set to provide the conditions for Alexis Sanchez’s exit from the club and whilst the Chilean, alongside Olivier Giroud, eventually moved on in January, the former Lyon striker’s status was diminished by the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and, to a lesser extent, Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Having netted 76 Ligue 1 goals in his final three seasons in France, Lacazette developed a reputation of one of Europe’s deadliest front-men.
There was an initial agreement in place to join Atletico Madrid last summer in anticipation of the club’s FIFA-imposed transfer ban being lifted but as this did not come to fruition, Arsenal pounced.
A difficult season
It has not been an entirely easy transition for the striker, joining an environment which has all too frequently proved itself to be chaotic, unstable and often poisonous.
Lacazette was not included by Arsene Wenger in the early-season trip to Liverpool and, whilst it would be misleading to suggest he could have prevented his side’s total collapse, it hinted over a lack of direction from the very top.
The continuity of Wenger, rather than providing stability has had the opposite impact, with many player’s careers stagnating.
It is not unfair to point to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s resurgence at Liverpool or even Francis Coquelin excelling in his early displays for Valencia. Mediocrity has become accepted at the Emirates and, in an attempt to provide balance, big-name signings have been made.
Mesut Ozil, Sanchez, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Lacazette are a standard of player capable of challenging for league titles but the Frenchman has often been the fall-guy, with Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi among those who have been preferred at varying points this season.
Producing the goods
Lacazette has only completed nine full Premier League games this season – less than a third of his tally for each of his last four seasons with Lyon.
Yet his return of 15 goals is respectable with six coming in his last six appearances. He is the only player at the club to score against Manchester United and Manchester City this season, showing he is capable of producing the goods when it matters.
He is an all-around striker: alert in the penalty area, capable of accurate shooting from range, holding up the ball, bringing others into play and playing delightfully threaded through-balls to teammates.
Not afraid to challenge opponents, he provides a strength and backbone which has been so often absent from Arsenal in the last decade.
It is not clear who the next boss at the Emirates will be but, in Lacazette, they have a quality striker who is hungry to prove a point.
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