Alexandre Lacazette’s form under increasing scrutiny as listless Arsenal hand top four initiative to Tottenham | Soccer News

Ten of the 12 outfield players used by Arsenal on Saturday 2-1 loss to Brighton attempted at least one shot but their attacker was not among them. Alexandre Lacazette is in the spotlight.

The Frenchman has scored just once in his last 11 Premier League appearances and his tally for the season stands at just four goals in 25 games. He has not been on target since mid-March. He hasn’t found the net in open play since December.

Until recently, his lack of goal threat was mitigated by other qualities. Between December 6 and March 13, Lacazette recorded two more assists (seven) than any other Premier League player.

His contribution, diving deep to link play and feed the runners on either side of him, was integral to the recovery in form that followed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s banishment from the side and propelled Arsenal into the Premier League race. champions.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s loss to Brighton

“Laca has a really important quality, which is that he makes the people around him better”, said Mikel Arteta in conversation with sky sports ahead of Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Watford last month.

His performance at Vicarage Road showed exactly what Arteta was talking about. Lacazette may not have scored himself, but he played a crucial role in the win nonetheless, kicking off Bukayo Saka for Arsenal’s second and then setting up Gabriel Martinelli’s third.

“It’s so much fun to play with him,” Saka said afterwards. Fellow academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe was equally complimentary. “Playing with him at the top really helps me,” he said last season. “He gives me a lot of confidence and talks to me a lot.”

Arsenal followed up their victory at Watford with a 2-0 win over Leicester which included a Lacazette goal from the penalty spot. Since then, however, they have lost three out of four games and the man charged with leading the line has struggled more than anyone.

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Lacazette’s lack of power in front of goal was excusable when helping others flourish, but not anymore. Against Brighton, as well as failing to register a shot on goal, he had fewer touches (22) and fewer assists (eight) than any other starter.

For many supporters, patience was already at an end. Lacazette’s anonymous display against Brighton followed similarly poor performances against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Liverpool.

He’s gone from an average of 2.8 shots per 90 minutes to just 1.6 and barely creating half the chances. His touch and pass numbers have dropped by around a third. On top of that, he offers even less presence in the opposing box.

Lacazette’s willingness to fall into midfield opponents was baffling at first, but increasingly it looks like they’ve gotten the hang of it. Patrick Vieira even mentioned him by name after orchestrating Crystal Palace’s 3-0 victory over the Gunners at Selhurst Park.

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“Every time they managed to find players [between the lines]we always had one of our back four who jumped and tried to put pressure, especially on Alexandre Lacazette,” he said.

Brighton used similar tactics on Saturday, as did Liverpool and Aston Villa before that. Lacazette is still in free fall but he no longer finds the same space to operate. Arsenal’s attacking fluidity suffers.

Fatigue seems to be another factor.

Arteta has frequently spoken of Lacazette’s “phenomenal” work rate, but his recent sluggish performances suggest the efforts of the past few months are catching up with him.

The same goes for tracking data. Before his recent drop in form, Lacazette had covered more than 10km in each of the last four games in which he had played the full 90 minutes. In each of the last two, however, against Brighton and Crystal Palace, he failed to reach that milestone.

Lacazette’s scoring struggles

  • Four goals in 25 Premier League games this season
  • Only one goal in last 11 appearances
  • No shots on target in last four appearances
  • No goals in open play since December 11

It’s perhaps unsurprising that a player turning 31 next month is tired, especially given his dramatically increased workload. Since Aubameyang was dropped, Lacazette has started 16 consecutive games. It is by far his longest streak of starts since joining Arsenal.

Many fans are eager to see something different as Arsenal try to get their top-four challenge back on track, but the situation is complicated by the lack of clear alternatives.

The club intend to sign at least one striker this summer – ‘any successful team needs a sufficient goal threat in the team’, says Arteta sky sports in March – but until then their options beyond Lacazette are limited to Eddie Nketiah, who hasn’t started a Premier League game all season, or the redeployment of a supporting striker such as Martinelli or Smith Rowe.

Arsenal were beaten 3-0 at Crystal Palace
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Alexandre Lacazette’s contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the season

Those who disagreed with the decision to let Aubameyang go will take his explosive start at Barcelona as vindication. Others will regret the decision not to replace him in the same transfer window.

Arteta, however, has to do what he can with what he has.

Dropping Lacazette would be another gamble, given the relative inexperience of his alternatives, but the team are already in need of recalibration following injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey. Why not reassess his offensive device at the same time?

Lacazette’s listless display against Brighton showed the need for change up front is becoming more and more urgent. Recent evidence suggests that Arteta cannot postpone it any longer.

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