Would Ben Yedder Be the Perfect Replacement for Lacazette?
A new name linked with Arsenal, is 29 year old Wissam Ben Yedder. The French international could be seen as a replacement for Alexandre Lacazette, with the forward being linked with a move away from Arsenal.
This piece will aim to analyse and break down Wissam Ben Yedder and what he could bring to Arsenal and whether he could improve upon Lacazette.
Despite Ben Yedder’s fine form this season, AS Monaco reside in 9th place. With Ligue 1 being brought to a close, Monaco won’t have European Football for next season. Whilst it is unknown what will happen with the Premier League, Arsenal do have a strong chance of finishing in a Europa League spot, being 3 points of 6thplace Wolves. Should Arsenal clinch a Europa place, this may be enough to draw Ben Yedder to Arsenal.
Ben Yedder started his career at Toulouse, where he spent 6 years and scored 71 goals in 174 appearances in all competitions. Ben Yedder moved to Seville in the 2016/2017 season for £8.55 million. After 138 appearances and 70 goals over three seasons, Ben Yedder joined Monaco for £40 million. This move came off the back of a fine season for Seville, scoring 30 goals and assisting a further 11 in all competitions.
Style of play
So far this season, in 31 games, Wissam Ben Yedder has scored 19 goals and registered 9 assists in all competitions. Ben Yedder is the proverbial “fox In the box”. Deadly finishing and remarkable movement allow Ben Yedder to pop up at the best moment and kill an opponent. In 26 Ligue 1 games this season, Ben Yedder has scored 13 goals from 45 penalty area shots. Lacazette in his 20 games this season in the Premier League, has taken 28 penalty area shots, scoring 4 goals. Clearly there is a disparity between the two, with Ben Yedder showing a greater willingness to get his shots away when he the opportunity arises. Lacazette perhaps looks to take a touch more to set himself, which may lead to an opposition blocking the shot.
Ben Yedder isn’t just a talented finisher. This season Ben Yedder has played 45 key passes in Ligue 1 and has recorded 4 assists. A total of 32 of these key passes have come in the penalty area. This shows he is just as happy to find a teammate in a better position, as he is to get the glory for himself. Lacazette has played 21 key passes, 14 of which have come in the penalty area. Lacazette has recorded 3 assists from these 14 key passes. This season, Lacazette has averaged 1.43 key passes per 90 minutes. Ben Yedder has averaged 1.85.
Lacazette seemingly doesn’t find himself with the highest percentage shooting chances. Ben Yedder can’t help but find himself in the best shooting positions with good chances. Expected goals per 90 minutes shows this. Ben Yedder has had an expected goals per 90 minutes of 0.61 and has outperformed his expected goals for the season scoring 3.11 more goals than the 14.89 prediction, which is based on the chances and shots he has had in Ligue 1 this season. Lacazette per 90 minutes, has an expected goals of 0.43 and for the season, has had an expected goals of 6.33, outperforming it by 0.67.
It’s worth noting that perhaps Lacazette’s decline in goal return this season could have been predicted. Over the last six seasons, he has outperformed his expected goals by 15.70. The largest difference being the 2016/2017 season (his last with Lyon, before joining Arsenal), where he scored 5.53 more goals than predicted. That season, he was expected to score 22.47 goals, his actual return was 28 goals. The suggestion here is that potentially Lacazette was aided in his goal scoring exploits by poor defending and weak goalkeeping. An alternative is that Lacazette was scoring harder chances, which had a lower expected goals rating. Both of Ben Yedder’s spells in France saw him outperform his expected goals prediction marginally. Whereas at Seville it was rather consistent. Over the last 6 seasons, Ben Yedder has been somewhat more on a trajectory with his expected goals. He has scored 3.78 more goals than expected.
One area where Alexandre Lacazette has truly flourished and seemingly Mikel Arteta has put great emphasis on is his ability to help build-up play. Much like Sergio Aguero at Manchester City, Lacazette likes to drop from the number 9 position and offer different options and create different attacking structures with his teammates. To measure a players effectiveness in possession we can use expected goal chain. This is the expected goal measure for every possession sequence the player is involved in. Lacazette has an expected goal possession chain per 90 minutes of 0.61. This shows his willingness to contribute to play and help attacking moves. Ben Yedder with greater minutes on the pitch has a result of 0.86. Just to put this number in perspective, Sergio Aguero, records a 1.03.
Expected goal contributions during build-up play tell us how well a player contributes to build-up play. This is the total expected goal measure for every possession the player is involved in per 90 minutes, minus key passes and shots. Ben Yedder has an average of 0.17. Lacazette surprisingly contributes a build-up expected goals of 0.10. It is worth remembering Lacazette has played 876 less minutes than Ben Yedder this season. In 88 more minutes, Aguero has a build-up expected goals per 90 minutes of 0.16. This shows that Ben Yedder effectively and successfully facilitates this role.
It’s all well and true comparing and analysing Lacazette and Ben Yedder, but we are only basing Ben Yedder off what he is doing for Monaco and the situations he finds himself in there. We need to judge him on what Mikel Arteta will want from him. As well as this, the match contexts Ben Yedder will find himself in at Arsenal are.
Under Arteta, before the season halted, it was clear Arsenal were very possession-based and wanted to dominate games. The responsibility of the striker was to drop and contribute to build-up play, as well as make sacrificial runs. Ben Yedder can do this. Arteta also wanted his team to work hard and press relatively high up the pitch and with good co-ordination. Under new boss Roberto Moreno, Monaco focus more on possession and ball rotations through tight and short intricate passing. Both Arsenal and Monaco have scored similar goals from fast breaks, 3 and 4 respectively. Moreover, both Arsenal and Monaco have scored 22 and 29 goals respectively, from “normal” attacking speeds through patient build-up. This goes to show that Ben Yedder would fit Arsenal’s pace and match tempo. It means he doesn’t just score from fast counter-attacks which would be a contradiction to Arsenal’s style.
In conclusion, at 29 and turning 30 on the 12th of August, Wissam Ben Yedder would be a great signing for the next two or three seasons. Alexandre Lacazette 28, turning 29 on the 28th of May next year, has shown lots of promise under Arteta, but if he leaves, then Ben Yedder would be a great replacement. Ben Yedder’s age would be good news for the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli and some of the other youth prospects. They would, therefore, see an increase in game time and would be kept around rather than should Arsenal move for Odsonne Edouard or any younger forward. Ben Yedder could certainly play a positional style of football and has the attributes to fit into Arteta’s philosophy.