Tag Archives: Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal’s New Signings: Hit, miss or Jury’s Out?

Sead Kolasinac

Named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season last season, the left back looked at bargain when he arrived on a free transfer, Kolasinac scored on his debut against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Community Shield. He made his Premier League debut on the opening day, providing an assist in a 4–3 win over Leicester City.

With Arsenal playing 3 at the back, he made the left wing back position his own, with Nacho Monreal flourishing on the left hand side of back 3. In the early months, he gave the team the aggression it had missed for some time, living up to his “tank” nickname.

He was named Arsenal Player of the Month in both August and October, with Nacho Monreal winning the prize in September.

Towards the end of 2017, both a formation change and injury saw him fall out of the side, firstly with Aisnley-Maitland Niles playing on the left, then Nacho Monreal returning to left back when we returned to a back 4.

Questions were raised over his defensive awareness as the reasoning behind him finding himself on the bench, but it was as much to do with Nacho Monreal’s great form – the 32 year old Spaniard showing that there is life in the old dog yet.

Kolasinac returned to the first team in the later part of the season, as Wenger begun to rest players in the league for the Europa League.

Going forward he has shown his class with 5 goals and 4 assists. To bring this into perspective, this is as many goals as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has scored for Liverpool.

Just 24, he has shown enough this season to be Monreal’s long term replacement at left back. He is certainly not as bad defensively as some critics perhaps say.

Alexandre Lacazette

Scoring after 94 seconds on his debut against Leicester City, the Frenchman’s season certainly began with a bang. He went on to score in both Arsenal’s next two home games, becoming the first Arsenal player to score in his first three home league appearances for the club since Brian Marwood in September 1988.

By the time December hit, it was 8 goals from his first 16 games. A fabulous start. And then it went down hill.

1 goal in his next 13 games had fans starting to question the record signing. What followed was 8 weeks on the sidelines following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham.

He returned in April against Stoke City, scoring the third goal of the game following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s decision to allow his fellow striker to take a penalty.

With that his confidence returned and he scored 8 goals in 9 games.

The clubs top scorer this season, it does feel one of 3 thirds. Brilliant in the first 3rd. Poor in the second 3rd. Brilliant in the final third. But if 17 goals is considered a poor return in his first season, it only bodes well for the future.

Konstantinos Mavropanos

The 20 year old Greek defender was signed in January with a view to spend the second half of the season on loan in Germany. A decision to put him on the bench in the League Cup game against Chelsea meant this was not longer possible.

This left Mavropanos playing in the U23s for the majority of the season.

He made his Premier League debut in a 2–1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Despite the defeat, his performance was praised by fans and pundits.

Mavropanos made his home debut in the club’s next home match – the 5-0 victory over Burnley.

His red card against Leicester City shows how quickly football can change.

It is important not to go OTT with Mavropanos; and we must remember that he has only played a handful of senior games in England, but physically, he looks brilliant.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Part of the deal that took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, he made his first start for Arsenal in a 5–1 home win over Everton, claiming three assists. That match was probably the highlight of his Arsenal career thus far.

A knee injury in April caused him to miss almost the entire month. That break seemed to have broken his rhythm and affected him settling at the club, leaving him with just 7 Premier League starts.

3 goals and 5 assists in his first 14 games is a decent return, but Jose Mourinho’s question marks over his fragility hang over his head.

If he stays fit, he will be a good foil for Mesut Ozil.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Whilst Mkhitaryan was the man who replaced Sanchez on the pitch, Aubameyang has replaced the Chilean as the figure head of the team.

He has continued his performances that he put in for Borussia Dortmund, scoring on his debut against Everton.

Aubameyang’s appearances were restricted due to be cup tied in the Europa League. You do have to wonder if he was not cup tied – due to UEFA’s odd rules – we probably would have gone on to beat Atletico Madrid in the semi-final. Him and Lacazette would have been too much to handle for 10 man Madrid.

It is not just the 8 goals in 12 games that has been impressive, but the way he lifted the entire club.

Alexis Sanchez was moody and selfish. Aubameyang plays with a smile on his face, and reminds me of Thierry Henry in that he is as delighted to see a team mate score as scoring himself.

Giving the ball to Lacazette against Stoke City showed he was a team player. Understanding a fellow striker struggling, his act led to Lacazette re-finding his form. You can not imagine Sanchez doing similar.

With new World Cup Aubameyang (and Mkhitaryan) will get a proper rest and full pre-season. He could be devastating next year.

Keenos

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Arsenal striker “best in the league”

As expected, many people commented on this mornings blog without actually reading it.

The jist was simple. Arsenal need to keep fringe pair Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck. And this was justified by pointing out that they were squad players, and more importantly home grown.

The majority of replies were “they should be the first two out of the club”. It highlights people not reading the blog, or understanding football.

Lets take Danny Welbeck. He is 3rd choice striker. Next season how much game time is he going to get? He will need both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be out of the team to get a start up top.

If everyone is fit, we will play 1 up top, so Danny Welbeck will be on the bench. Whoever is not playing between Lacazette and Aubameyang will be bought on before him if we need a goal. Welbeck will be a long way from the first team.

3rd choice striker got me thinking.

Is Danny Welbeck the best “3rd choice striker” in the Premier League? In all honesty, without looking on Wikipedia, I could not name the 3rd choice striker of most times. So off I go, to do some research (in the hope of producing a pretty little spreadsheet). The findings were interesting.

The only other striker other than Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to play for Manchester City this season was Lukas Nmecha, a 19 year old Englishman who has made 2 substitute appearances after the league title was one. 14 minutes in total.

Chelsea are in a similar position. They have just two senior strikers. Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud. They have had Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi on their books as well this season. Costa has left and Batshuayi on loan.

The reality is, Chelsea do not have a 3rd choice striker currently at the club. Will Batshuayi return? Who knows? Next year it will probably be Tammy Abraham. The youngster on loan to Swansea has 5 goals in the Premier League this season.

Manchester United are in a more favourable position.

After Romelu Lukaku, they have Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. If I wanted to be biased, I would claim that Sanchez is a wideman, and that Martial is 3rd choice striker, but in truth Sanchez would be moved upfront if Lukaku was injured.

This leaves Rashford as 3rd choice striker.

Rashford is similar to Danny Welbeck. Infact is he just a young Danny Welbeck? An adequate striker who is often used on the wing and scores 1 in 4.

There is talk of Rashford leaving Manchester United and joining Arsenal. If this resulted in Welbeck leaving, it would be like when a rich middle aged man leaves his wife for a younger model.

Rashford is just 20, so he will still improve (where as Welbeck will not). Certainly one for the future, but Welbeck will start ahead of the youngster for England.

Liverpool are an odd one. Mohamed Salah is the leagues top scorer, but is no more a striker for us than when Alexis Sanchez was when he was playing out wide for Arsenal last season. Salah has played just 3 times down the middle this season.

Despite also not being a natural striker, Roberto Firmino is their out disputed number one. Whenever he has not played, Liverpool have put Dominic Solanke through the middle. He has made 4 Premier League starts this season. That leaves Danny Ings as 3rd choice striker.

Neither Ings or Solanke will go to the World Cup. Welbeck will.

When Harry Kane picked up his injury for Spurs, they pushed Son Heung-Min further forward. This clearly puts Fernando Llorente as 3rd choice, even though he was originally bought as back up to the English cry-baby.

At 33 he is clearly a striker on the wain. He scored 15 league goals last season for Swansea, but found the net just once for Spurs in the Premier League this – although he has played just 226.

The fact that Mauricio Pochettino does not seem to trust him to be 2nd choice striker behind Kane is telling.

Danny Welbeck might not be everyone’s cup of tea, yet he has 10 goals in all competitions this season. He has started just 5 games this season upfront. I would be surprised if too many are in the Premier League.

Arsenal do need a better wide option than Danny Welbeck. 16 starts on the wing is too many. He can not be our first choice winger next season. But up front, as 3rd choice striker, there are not too many better in the Premier League.

Keenos

Arsenal players enter new relationship

When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang handed the ball to Alexandre Lacazette when on a hat trick against Stoke City, the Gambion got some grief from some attention seekers.

Here was a striker, who should be hungry for goals, already with 2 (including 1 penalty) handing the ball over to a team mate. One fan, who must have had some good betting information,  had stuck a fiver on him getting a hat trick was especially angry.

But what it showed was Aubameyang’s awareness of a fellow striker who was going through a bad patch.

Before he joined the club, Aubameyang had been highly criticised in the press. Egotistical. Self-interested. Flashy. A big time Charlie. A poor team mate.

The majority of these comments were by people who did not know him. Had not followed his career. Had probably never had dealings with him. They saw the flash cars, the jewellery, and his skin colour and judged him. Like they do with Raheem Sterling.

That day against Stoke City, Aubameyang showed exactly who he is.

He saw Lacazette through his own eyes as a striker. His team mate had scored 1 goal in 13 games. Had an injury. Had not really settled at his new club. Every striker will recognise another striker struggling. The simple chances get skied or put wide. The confidence is not their for one on ones. The offside flag gets raised more often than not.

Aubameyang’s two goals against Stoke City had made it 5 goals in his first 7 games for Arsenal. He could have easily made it 6 in 7 and walked off with the match ball. Other strikers (Harry Kane) would have done. They would have been greedy. Even if it was at the detriment of their team mates.

By giving the ball to Lacazette, he hoped that a goal would spark him in to life. Would shake the cobwebs. With himself being cup-tied in the Europa League, he knew that it was more important for the team for Lacazette to score than himself.

Lacazette slotted in the penalty.

And Aubameyang got it right. It did spark Lacazette into life. The Frenchman is now 5 in 6. Against West Ham, Lacazette scored twice. One of which was set up by Aubameyang.

What stuck in my mind re-watching the game last night was the celebration of the Arsenal players.

A huge fuss was made when the side looked split after Alexis Sanchez scored against Crystal Palace. It was back page news. Against West Ham, the team celebrated as one. And it was the final embrace that inspired this.

The last two to celebrate together were Lacazette and Aubameyang. A warm embrace. One which showed genuine friendship. Lacazette was delighted to have been scored, and Aubameyang looked equally as delighted for him.

It highlighted the togetherness of Arsenal’s record signings.

For Arsenal, top strikers have been like busses. We have waited a decade for a pacey, direct striker, then end up with two at once. And there has been plenty of talk about how they would fit together.

Can they play together? Will they be happy rotating? Might one end up leaving?

They might not be suitable to play together every game. With Henrik Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil to be added to the team, it will give the new manager plenty of food for thought on how to line up. What is for certain is with all 4, we have options. Different formations. Different tactics.

It should be remembered that for Dortmund. Aubameyang played a season alongside Robert Lewandowski. He was out wide with the Pole up top. It is a roll the he can perform.

The budding relationship between Aubameyang and Lacazette is one of the few positives from this season. And one that we can begin to get excited about next years.

Keenos