Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette becomes Mikel Arteta’s go-to man for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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When Mikel Arteta dropped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his starting line-up against bitter rivals Tottenham, it’s safe to say the backlash would have been significant had Arsenal collapsed.

Alexandre Lacazette was the man in charge of the North London derby lead, and he certainly rewarded Arteta’s faith – he scored the winner from the penalty spot when Arsenal secured the bragging rights with a 2-1 win.

Arsenal captain Aubameyang was relegated to the bench at the Emirates for showing up late when the side met for the crunch derby, and the incident is somewhat of a summary of his season.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang give Arsenal several options at the top

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang give Arsenal several options at the top

Lacazette recently shone for Arsenal, scoring the winner in the North London derby

Lacazette recently shone for Arsenal, scoring the winner in the North London derby

Lacazette recently shone for Arsenal, scoring the winner in the North London derby

Arsenal’s talisman, and there is no doubt that he is The Gunners’ most lethal player in his day, has endured a rather fruitless campaign for goal compared to his usual excellent standards.

In his first full season with Arsenal (2018-19), Aubameyang finished as the Premier League’s joint top scorer with 22 goals alongside Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

The following season, he continued his rich form, finishing the season with a further 22 goals – just one behind Leicester striker Jamie Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot.

ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE VERSUS PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG
Premier League 2020-21 Alexandre Lacazette Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Played games 25 24
Played for minutes 1624 1934
Games won 10 9
Games drawn 4 5
Games lost 11 10
Goals 11 10
Goals (excl. Sanctions) 8 7
Expected goals 10.78 8.35
Min / target 147.82 214.89
Conversion rate of recordings 28.21 18.37
Total number of shots 39 49
Shots on target 27 21
Missed great opportunities 9 6
Great opportunities scored 10 5
Helps 2 1
Opportunities created 20 15
STATISTICS THANKS TO OPTA

But this season, his return is currently just nine goals – coinciding with Arsenal’s disastrous start to the season in which they languished in an unimaginable 15th place ahead of Christmas.

Aubameyang has continued to show magical moments this season, including his hat-trick against Leeds at home in the Premier League in February, before Arsenal sealed his progression to the Europa League from the last 16 with a brace against Benfica in Athens.

But unfortunately for Arteta, in a turbulent season, his talisman has not performed often enough and instead has looked to his younger players, such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, to inspire his side to glory.

Another player who seems to have come to the fore in recent times is Lacazette, and like against Tottenham, he took his chance when he gave the nod.

Lacazette also headed the tying run for Arsenal in their thrilling 3-3 draw with West Ham

Lacazette also headed the tying run for Arsenal in their thrilling 3-3 draw with West Ham

Lacazette also headed the tying run for Arsenal in their thrilling 3-3 draw with West Ham

LACAZETTE VERSUS AUBAMEYANG BUILDING GAME
Premier League 2020-21 Alexandre Lacazette Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Badges 425 520
Appropriate accuracy 77.7 77.8
Forward passes 82 125
Forward fit accuracy 56.1 55.2
Lost property 182 209
Touches 706 790
Touch / possession lost% 25.8% 26.5%
Goes / crosses in box 26 53

And again at West Ham ahead of the international break, he proved to be Arsenal’s savior as they came from three goals behind and earned a thrilling 3-3 draw at London Stadium.

The Frenchman dug Arsenal 3-0 out of a hole after a brilliant touch and turned into West Ham’s penalty area before his Tomas Soucek strike broke off in the net. And he took the equalizer with a header on the back post late after Nicolas Pepe’s cross.

In fact, if you compare Lacazette and Aubameyang, it is the Frenchman who has a stronger season on the offensive for the Gunners – which will surprise many.

Lacazette, who played one game more than his closest friend but over 300 minutes less, scored 11 goals (eight excluding penalties) compared to Aubameyang’s nine (seven).

Lacazette scores a goal every 147 minutes in the Premier League, while Aubameyang scores every 214 minutes.

The former Lyon striker has also fired 27 shots on target, six more than Aubameyang on this front, showing he is getting in better positions for scoring opportunities.

And he was more ruthless in front of goal, scoring 10 big chances compared to Aubameyang’s five.

Aubameyang, Arsenal's deadliest striker of his time, has struggled to find his form this season.

Aubameyang, Arsenal's deadliest striker of his time, has struggled to find his form this season.

Aubameyang, Arsenal’s deadliest striker of his time, has struggled to find his form this season.

THE TOP SCORERS OF ARSENAL IN PL

1) Alexandre Lacazette – 11

2) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 9

3) Nicolas Pepe – 5

3) Bukayo Saka – 5

5) Gabriel Magalhaes – 2

But it’s Lacazette’s build-up game that stands out to Arsenal supporters. The Frenchman is particularly good at holding the ball with his back to the goal, letting those around him thrive with his continuous play.

Lacazette disappears into dangerous pockets and his movement upwards allows those around him to leave the empty space left by him.

And Arsenal have scored some standout goals this season thanks to his smart moves and couples play, most notably against West Brom after the turn of the year when Saka completed a nice, free-flowing move after brilliant engagement from both Lacazette and Smith Rowe.

Another standout goal is Arsenal’s second in the 3-1 win over Southampton in January, with Lacazette falling short to shoot the ball around the corner the first time, allowing Saka to finish superbly.

And Lacazette’s controlled build-up play is evident in the statistics – helping to create 20 chances for his teammates compared to Aubameyang’s 15.

Aubameyang has thrown a lot more passes (520) together than Lacazette (425) this season, but the Frenchman is more insistent in finding his teammates.

Aubameyang can cut more effectively from the left, but in Arsenal’s current system with three attacking players – usually Saka, Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard – behind number 9, the formation may be more suited to Lacazette due to his ability to help others in the game. to bring.

Lacazette's strengths lie in holding the ball and bringing his teammates into play

Lacazette's strengths lie in holding the ball and bringing his teammates into play

Lacazette’s strengths lie in holding the ball and bringing his teammates into play

The stats also highlight that Lacazette is more effective in the build-up process by taking far fewer hits (making the game less slower) than Aubameyang, while the former also just beats his teammate in terms of forward pass accuracy and ever loss of the ball. so a little less.

Aubameyang’s desire to push or stay wide has also clearly hindered Arsenal’s attack in the past – with Arteta without his deadly striker in the box where he is needed most.

The Gunners had been criticized, especially after a 2-1 home defeat to Wolves amid their dire form last November, for putting far too many hopeful crosses into the box without Aubameyang there to capitalize.

And actually Aubameyang was partly guilty of this. The Arsenal skipper has actually made 53 crosses / passes into the penalty area, compared to just 26 from Lacazette, showing that he doesn’t get into scoring positions much.

Lacazette's recent good form gives Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta a welcome headache at the top

Lacazette's recent good form gives Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta a welcome headache at the top

Lacazette’s recent good form gives Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta a welcome headache at the top

Natural wingers or midfielders should feed him, not the other way around.

The Gunners need that central figure and focal point at the top, and Lacazette is the man who is currently giving them that much-needed balance.

With Lacazette on the Premier League side this season, Arsenal average 1.5 goals per game, compared to just 1.1 with Aubameyang on the field.

Lacazette recently staked his claim against both West Ham and Tottenham, while also shining in the 3-1 win away from Champions League hopeful Leicester at the end of February.

With Lacazette on the side, Arsenal has a better balance at this point with the three behind him able to wander and intertwine to create additional threat.

There is no doubt that Aubameyang is the biggest striker of his day, but Lacazette has given Arteta a very welcome selection headache ahead of the crunch clash at home against Liverpool on Saturday.

Against the reigning champions, who will likely be in the foreground for most of the game, Lacazette’s ability to hold up the game and bring his teammates into the mix may give Arsenal that outlet they desperately crave.

Again, it’s a big decision for Arteta. Is he sticking with Aubameyang or spinning and just playing Lacazette in the side role in the number 9 role?

Injuries to both Saka and Smith Rowe could mean Lacazette and Aubameyang team up with the latter on the weekend as they did at West Ham, but going forward, Arteta knows he will have to make a tough decision about his headman.