Why Arsenal fans need to back Alexandre Lacazette
This article forms the first of two on Alexandre Lacazette. The first shall show why Arsenal fans need to back their striker more than ever at present, whilst the second part will look at ways in which Mikel Arteta can get the best out of his number 9.
Alexandre Lacazette has led a somewhat confusing Arsenal career. Upon being brought in for £48 million in the summer of 2017, he seemed initially unfavoured by Arsene Wenger. Nevertheless, he scored 14 goals in the 32 Premier League games which he played. Under Unai Emery, Lacazette became even more vital, returning 13 goals and 10 assists in 35 games- a total that saw him win Arsenal’s player of the year for the season. This was not just for his goal output, but for his work-rate, passion and link-up play.
On and off the pitch, his partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has proved vital to the club’s purple patches last season. The Frenchman over-performed both in terms of goals and assists, which in turn saw Arsenal finish eleven points above their expected points.
At the start of the 2019/20 season, it seemed that Lacazette was carrying on where he left off, as he netted on his first two starts against Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur. This became further impressive when it was revealed that the forward had been playing through an ankle injury which subsequently saw him ruled out for several weeks. Far from ideal.
A Tale of Woe?
Fast forward to today, and Lacazette is currently on a nine-game goal drought, whilst he has not scored away from home in almost a year. The latter can be easily over-relied upon. His role to the squad is far more than goalscoring, and he can be compared more to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (although a lesser player) than, for example, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. For comparison, Roberto Firmino is yet to score in 16 home appearances for Liverpool. The effect of the away drought can be significantly overstated, therefore.
The nine-game goal drought is slightly more worrying, however. The causes, and in turn solutions, to this barren spell will be covered in part two of this article, but the obvious consequence is the clear lack of confidence which the Frenchman now has. Against Burnley, he looked a shadow of the player who was so influential last season.
Whilst Arsenal fans have been fantastic in their backing of Mikel Arteta, some fans do have a tendency to scapegoat their own players, and in some cases, these can spiral out of control. This can be encapsulated by the story of Shkodran Mustafi, who has spoken at length about the effect of social media on his own mentality. Since his return, the support for the German has been fantastic, notably in the FA cup tie against Bournemouth. If his performance against Burnley is anything to go on, he has begun paying back this faith.
Similarly, Lacazette is short of confidence, and fans on social media have begun to turn on him, suggesting him symptomatic of Arsenal’s goal-shy performances. It is true that he has missed several chances that he would be expected to finish in recent weeks, but that accusation can be levelled just as accurately at any of Arsenal’s front line. His movement and hold-up play have naturally suffered as a result of his dip in confidence, but they are still respectable.
Ultimately, everyone knows that Alexandre Lacazette is a very good striker. Last season alone, 9 of his 13 goals proved to be match-winners, the same number as Mohammed Salah, and two more than Sergio Aguero. These included goals against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, whilst he also gained the club results against Liverpool, Napoli and Valencia. These are no mean feats, and to write him off on the back of a string of poor performances in a generally underwhelming Arsenal side is extremely harsh.
Right now, Lacazette needs the fan’s support more than ever, and Arsenal need him in order to dominate games in the way Arteta wants to, especially at home. An in-form Lacazette would go a long way to turning some of Arsenal’s 13 draws into victories, and would paint a much rosier picture of Mikel Arteta’s reign.