Opinion: Lacazette is critical member of Emery's Arsenal
Paininthearsenal's Andrew Dowdeswell writes on Laca's role for the team. He explains what makes the French striker so important.
"The focus on Aubameyang often tends to shove Alexandre Lacazette into the shadows a little — not completely. His substitution was again booed in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Chelsea, a clear illustration of his popularity among the fan base. Lacazette is seemingly underrated by those in the stanchions, the media and even on the touchline. It always feels as though Unai Emery is much closer to dropping Lacazette than he is more deserving players.
"Against Chelsea, however, Lacazette again displayed how integral he is to this team. Not only did he score the first goal with a beautiful spin, shimmy, shake and strike into the roof of the net, past the stationary Marcos Alonso, Pedro and Kepa, but he was vital to the pressing game of the Gunners throughout the first half; his industry and willingness to instigate pressure in the right areas of the pitch were central to Arsenal’s suffocation of their visitors.
"And this has been evident throughout the season. Lacazette is a far better link player than Aubameyang, his touch and greater strength allowing him to hold off challenges and turn away from pressure. He is more than athletic enough to harry opposing defences. He is willing to track back without the ball, which he did on several occasions on Saturday.
"In playing a front two, as Emery now seems committed to doing without investment in at least one wide attacker, it is essential that both do not play exclusively on the shoulder of the defence. Whether it be adding extra cover in central midfield when playing a flat four in the midfield or tracking back the full-backs when playing a diamond, as was the case against Chelsea, at least one of the two must drop into deeper spaces, in and out of possession.
"Aubameyang does not have the physical presence without the ball or the softness of touch with it to be able to play this role successfully. Lacazette, on the other hand, is perfectly built for it. He is wonderfully adept at receiving the ball with a defender draped all over his back and spinning away to start attacks. He is strong in challenges, relentless in pursuit and smart in the positions he picks up.
"Lacazette really is a critical member of this Arsenal team, and it was displayed in its full gory on Saturday."