Leave Laca alone

Even Fabianski looks happy for Lacazette

When Alexandre Lacazette banged home our winner against West Ham on Saturday all Arsenal fans breathed a sigh of relief.

We hadn’t been playing particularly well but three points were essential if we were to hold out any hope of European football next year.

I wouldn’t have cared how we got the winner – a rebound off Mark Noble’s backside would have suited me just fine. But I was pleased that it was Laca who made the decisive intervention.

He has not exactly been a fan favourite this season and I have read numerous comments to the effect that we should “dump” him at the end of the season.

Oh, how fickle we fans can be.

I think it’s time to add a bit of perspective to the Lacazette debate.

Yes, he had a rotten run for a large part of this season and his goal drought was becoming positively Saharan. But if you look at Lacazette’s record across a longer period you see a consistent scorer who’s generally good for a goal every second game.

That’s doesn’t make him Thierry Henry, but it also doesn’t make him Lenny Henry. A goal every two games in an EPL season means you end up with 19 goals, which is a solid return, especially in a team where your strike partner is considered the principle scoring threat.

In his Lyon career Laca hit the back of the net 100 times in 203 appearances. In his first season in North London (2017/18) he managed 17 goals in 33 starts. The following season he bagged 19 in 36 starts.  

And hopefully, as the West Ham strike illustrates, he is starting to get back to scoring form just in time for the business end of the season.

Since breaking his drought in the 4-0 win over Newcastle (when he came on in the 85th minute and managed a somewhat lucky goal) he has played 243 minutes of footy and scored three times (at an average of one goal every 81 minutes).

It hasn’t all been great. That 243 minutes includes 109 goal-less minutes against Olympiacos on the night we were ousted from the Europa League. But there are signs that Laca is coming back to being the striker we know him to be, as the winner against West Ham indicates.

I don’t want to overstate the level of doubt people have had about him. I certainly don’t think the crowd has been giving him a hard time or anything of that sort. But I have detected a widespread sense that he’s not really up to it, which is just wrong.

In addition to his goal scoring abilities, Lacazette is a very hard worker, always closing down the opposition and defending from the front. Even in the midst of his miserable run in front of goal I never saw him hide for a second.

So let’s all be thankful that a top quality player looks as if he is on the way to regaining his confidence and touch.

When Laca is back, The Arsenal benefits.

RockyLives

40 Responses to Leave Laca alone

  1. RC78 says:

    @RL – I fully agree with you.

    I am a fan of Laca and I agree that he had a rotten spell but I think that he is slowly finding his shooting boots again. Maybe the competition with Nketiah is helping him in that respect. Laca is also our best player when it comes to holding the ball up front and playing with his back to the goal. I really like Ozil too but if I had to choose between playing Ozil or Laca behind a striker (be it Martinelli or Auba), I would opt for Laca. He is also very good at pressing the opposition so for me, he is a warrior and will score you goals and as RL says, a goal in every two games is not great but it is still quite something so Vive Lacazette!

  2. LBG says:

    Good one, Rocky
    Think some of the negativity, apart from those that ritually have no time for strikers not scoring and would need more than one brain cell to understand even the greatest have “nothing going in” phases, was linked to suggestion he and Aubang were reluctant to sign new contracts. As I have said before, would personally choose to keep Laca above Aubang if forced to decide and cash in on the other.
    Agree with your analysis. Not great at receiving ball ,mid field ,with back to 6’2″ gorilla. But absolutely brilliant at holding off same gorillas when five yards out, turning and hitting the target. Arsenal and the team in his heart.

  3. RC78 says:

    @all – Leave Pepe alone as well :-P.

    He is still annoyingly superfluous in the use of his dribbling skills and he needs to play more directly BUT he will end up the year with maybe 10 assists in the EPL and a few goals, which is not as good as we expected for our record signing but if anyone can unlock his potential, it is Arteta. I am confident that Pepe will be a key player for us in years to come. I would also urge Arteta to try Pepe on the left side of the pitch and behind the striker as well just to allow Pepe to feel the EPL game better.

    Next year line-up:
    Leno – ?, ?, Luiz, Tierney – ?, Xhaka – Pepe, ?, Saka – Laca

    4 spots: one at RB, one at CB, one at CM, one at ACM

    Knowing that:
    – the CB could well be Mustafi, Saliba, Mari, Holding or Chambers…but ideally, I d like us to go and get Koulibaly or if short in cash, maybe Upamecano.
    – the CM could well be Ceballos, Torreira, Douzi but if Ceballos leaves, then I d like us to go and get Milinko-Savic, Brozovic or Partey or if we are short in cash, we could go for Zakaria or Neves or Laimer or Sabizer
    – the ACM could well be Ozil, Willock, Smithe-Rowe but we could also look into Grealish or a similar player.

    In any case, I am expecting us to lose AMN, Soares, Sokratis, Mavropanos, Holding or Chambers, Ceballos and maybe Willock (loan) and Auba. The Auba sale to fund a few signings.

    We need to add intensity and grit to our game so players like Koulibaly, Milinko-Savic and Grealish would give us this edge.

    Leno – Bellerin, Koulibaly, Luiz, Tierney – Milinko-Savic, Xhaka – Pepe, Grealish, Saka – Laca

    That would be a rather solid team…

    Anyways – back to the topic: We love Laca

  4. LBG says:

    Happy Birthdays to two of the greatest England and Lions Captains ever to play the oval game.
    Bill Beaumont 68years and Martin Johnson 50 years.

  5. Pete the Thirst says:

    @Rocky I like your positivity!

    Laca needs to do his talking on the field. He was definitely a step up from Eddy who hardly touched the ball on Saturday Having watched Nketiah a few times now I still not convinced. He is a ‘fox in the box’ player, but doesn’t link the play up.

  6. Pete the Thirst says:

    @LBG is Beaumont only 68? Looked older when he was on QoS years ago.

    I thought rolling around in mud was good for the skin… isn’t that what they do at health spas?

  7. RC78 says:

    I have not seen Jimenez play an awful lot. Is he really good?
    What about Buendia from Norwich?

  8. fred1266 says:

    Yea Jimenez is really good

    BuendiA can’t say cause Norwich are so awful, but he definitely one of the bright spot for them although I prefer cantwell reminds me of grealish

  9. RC78 says:

    Would you bring in Jimenez to AFC if we were to part with Laca?

  10. allezkev says:

    Fred, I’m with you on Jimenez, he looks a very mobile centre forward well suited to the British game.
    Not sure about how much he would cost though, Wolves are comfortable financially, so he might prove too expensive for us unless there’s a few departures?

  11. RockyLives says:

    I know Laca won’t reach his ‘goal every other game’ target this year.

    But the only club that had a second striker achieve above that level last season was Liverpool, with Salah and Mane both on 22.

    No-one else’s second striker came close.

  12. LBG says:

    Pete
    Rugby, a game for gentlemen; cauliflower ears and aged visage compulsory.

  13. Pete the Thirst says:

    @LBG I knew a group of rugby players a number of years back. They were among the biggest thugs I have met, especially after the compulsory beer intake. The worst of them was a member of the landed gentry!

    They would have given the old Duke of Edinburgh mob a run for their money.

  14. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky

    Laca is just one of many conundrums at Arsenal at the moment that Mikel will have to solve. There is still something that doesn’t feel balanced about the side and we are losing some fluidity and threat in games at present.

    Is Laca just a number 9 that has been off form or would he be better suited as a number 10. His goal-scoring stats would look good for a 10 but are slightly under for a number 9.

    Firminho is one that bucks the trend as a number 9 with reduced goal-scoring figures, but his ability to bring both Salah and Mane into play as goal-scorers makes up for it in the team overall. The 2 questions are, firstly is Laca as good as Firminho in his link up play, and secondly do we have 2 players that can play either side of a 9 that can replicate the goal-scoring stats of Mane and Salah?

    I find it interesting that many see Saka as a left footed left winger and Nelson as a right footed right winger when most of the prolific goal-scoring wing forward types play on the opposite flank. Saka and Nelson on the left and right respectively would provide decent threat in an assists sense but i would suggest would be less of a goal threat than if they were cutting in on their stronger foot from the opposite flank.

    These are all conundrums for Arteta to solve if we are to find our best formation moving forwards. Should we play with an attacking central midfielder behind the 9, like Ozil, with greter creativity but less goal threat or should we play a number 10 withdrawn striker and lose some creativity but increase direct goal threat?

    Is Laca a 9 or 10? Is Auba a 9 or left winger / wing forward? Are Saka, Nelson, Pepe, Martinelli left or right wingers / wing forwards or even number 10’s / ACM?

    I wasn’t at the game on Saturday so only had MOTD highlights to go with. It seems, from the many comments, that the highlights didn’t show the important performances from Mari and Ceballos. The highlights left me thinking that we were too slow in our dynamic thrust and transition into forward play through the middle of the pitch with the Xhaka / Ceballos partnership.

    The highlights also showed, with one of the WHU chances, Mari getting bullied off the ball when he stepped out to intercept over on the left and then it highlighted his lack of recovery pace once he had lost that first battle.

    However, if others who watched the whole game were impressed other than that, then it may be one of those where the highlights didn’t tell the whole story. Saliba very much looks a CD who can step out and still recover so maybe Mari will become the CD that more holds his position and just deals with the threat when it comes into his zone.

    Also from MOTD I ended up thinking Saka was MOTM as literally all our threatening moments were down to him or had him involved, and it really didn’t highlight anything too special in Ceballos performance.

  15. Pete the Thirst says:

    Talking of the Duke of Edinburgh…it was a pub in the back streets of Finsbury Park frequented by some notorious Arsenal hoodlums. One of the guys that used to drink in there was Johnny Rotten, the punk icon of Sex Pistols fame etc. I think his parents lived around the corner.

    Johnny is a very eloquent man with a sharp tongue that often causes trouble. When he was on Arsenal duty he used to have a friend/bouncer with him to keep him away from any trouble.

    Anyway he’s a huge Arsenal fan and one of the higher profile celebrity fans that you see from time to time. I’m sure there have been some spot the celebrity posts on here before but that’s quite a decent one.

  16. fred1266 says:

    No o wouldn’t part with lacazette flow Jimenez, lacazette once IF can give you way more than Jimenez ever could

  17. fred1266 says:

    GB u saw saka strick during the Europa run he is on of the few who can both score and assist from the right

    So don’t think reversing them to there stronger so they could get a shot of would work in this case

    I think some time in emery tenor he tried it and it didn’t work

  18. Pete the Thirst says:

    @GoonerB I was at the match. For me Leno was the MotM by a mile. You’re right most of the attacking threat came down Saka’s wing, but there wasn’t a lot of it. Pepe was ineffectual, took too many touches when he was near goal and had little support from the Sok. We had very little threat through the middle so Wham could sit deep and push wide. We were lucky not to concede.

    West Ham were a version of Stoke under Pulis. Long balls; long throws; big defenders; little skill. I hope they go down and take the porn barons and Lady Brady with them. Those 3 are lucky they haven’t spent time in jail for dubious business dealing.

  19. D says:

    I like Laca, but I think he dives alot. He’s a good player, but he’s a better sub. When given the nod from the off he struggles. When coming on at the tail end he’s good for a goal. I dont think Nketiah is the answer personally. Love the kid but he’s definitely no starter. But the [problem I have with Laca is that because he is so slow, he cant play on the wing. Meaning our actual main goal scorer is forced to play there. THAT is my issue with Lacazette. You put Auba through the middle, he scores. Laca stops our ability to play our strongest team atm. Mart, Auba, Pepe.
    That whole set up is built for speed. Auba, laca, pepe is harder as the two either side have to slow down to incorporate Laca.
    I’ve watched every game this season and when Laca starts our entire attack feels lethargic. It’s like he’s one foot out the door. Remember when he was at Lyon? He said he would only join if we were in europe. Now we’re not it’s like he’s [putting in half effort

  20. fred1266 says:

    GB I watch the game and personal didn’t think ceballos was motm, I know he human he made one dumb move (a ball was going out for a throw and he decided to back heel to keep it in for sokratis who had to get a yellow cause he isn’t the quickest)

    I personally don’t want him at the club I think mike using him as a link between defense and attack but from my opinion WHM got so much at us I think both him a xhaka weren’t doing a good job

  21. LB says:

    I think Arteta created a clever little competition between Nketiah and Lacazette it also took the pressure off of Laca who looked noticeably more potent when he came on on the weekend.

  22. Sue says:

    Fred.. I don’t rate Mendy… I saw earlier Pep said Madrid and Newcastle are the “real important” games for them.
    I was surprised at his line up yesterday.. especially as it was against United! Maybe a few have knocks, I don’t know. I’d love it if KDB (& Sergio) miss our game, as look what they’ve done to us in the past!! But I have a feeling they’ll make it! 🙈
    Pep won’t be happy with their performance yesterday, so I reckon it’s gonna be a humdinger of a game… COYG!!

  23. LBG says:

    GoonerB
    For his first game against a large and often aggressive team, ( and piss poor referee),I was impressed with Mari. Although not lightning quick, I think he has enough pace to be very effective, especially with his brain and consequent positioning. (Certainly in this respect superior to Sokratis
    and Mustafi, IMO). Also impressed with confidence to hit a 30 yard ball forward. Combative in the air, again against a big team.
    Generally 7.5 for me on Saturday, because the through ball for Antonio’s break was delicious and he still nearly got it.
    For me the MOTD highlights concentrating on Saka’s freedom and delivery wide, illustrates the lie that West Ham were so superior. We made plenty of “chances”, but either didnt have someone on the end or did, and failed to convert or significantly, had shots on target blocked.
    Still had noone point out the “six shots on target” that Wrighty mentioned from the stats. Believe both TV and papers decided on their “approach to the game” as “poor Hammers” and wrote inaccurate articles. This was also evident in 90minute commentary which described a “continuous flow of West Ham chances.
    Had my rant, sorry.
    PS Ceballos definitely MOM.

  24. LBG says:

    Now read Fred and Pete’s opinions of MOM.
    Just shows you we all witness something different.

  25. fred1266 says:

    Sue if you see him cross a ball before his injury that why am so scared of him

  26. fred1266 says:

    Newcastle an important game really that has to be a smoke screen

  27. fred1266 says:

    I remember when we got thump at the Emirates a buddy of mine and even some here was thinking we definitely going to beat city cause some other side get them a ago( if I not mistaken it was United)

    We were so wrong

  28. GoonerB says:

    LBG, there was enough in the highlights to realise Atkinson was poor, but I was watching soccer Saturday to keep track of the games and Le Tiss was commenting on our game. He doesn’t have any allegiance to either team but was quite strong in his opinion that the ref was seriously favouring WHU.

    Lacazette should have had a penalty and one of their chances (that I am sure is chalked up as one of the ones that they were unlucky with) was after one of their players went through the back of Eddie and was a blatant foul. Le Tiss mentioned both of these and the general way he let WHU get away with too much and penalised us for breathing in the wrong direction.

    I like the idea of Mari becoming an important CD for us, so hope he does. It seems on reflection the highlights only showed the bit he did wrong and not many of the other things he did right.

    If we are to line up with left footers on the left and righties on the right then I would suggest that the player who is central behind the number 9 would have to be more of a 2nd striker (like a Bergkamp, Zola, Sherringham) than attacking central midfielder like Ozil.

    If they are creating more danger from wide but are less prolific in scoring then we need to double our chances of converting centrally. It is why I wondered if we should try moving Pepe in behind the central striker and have someone else like Nelson play on the right. We need to either find a more like for like Ozil replacement soon anyway or change the way we line up with more a creative number 10 behind the front man.

    I am not sure we will keep either of our 2 main strikers for next season anyway so will need to enter the transfer market even if Nketieh, John Jules and Balogun step up and progress well.

    I have mentioned a certain player before but am putting the question out to RC78 and others who watch the French league more. Is Mousse Dembele (Lyon) good enough to be a top end EPL striker? To me he looks like he has all the physical attributes for it but I would love to hear directly from those that have seen him across 90 minutes more often.

  29. RC78 says:

    Moussa Dembele is very good indeed but I would rather go for Monaco strikers Slimani or Ben Yedder although they are older. I think they d suit us better. That said, Moussa Dembele (Lyon) and Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) would also be valuable additions. Dembele is quite strong and is a good finisher but he pbbly needs another season in Lyon to become the seasoned consistent striker he can be.

  30. LBG says:

    GoonerB
    The old puppet master No10 Ozil role is dying. The new support artist to (for me) two central forwards needs to be quick, dynamic in movement and pass, and have a trick. No need to spend money, Smith-Rowe is ours already.

  31. Sue says:

    On paper Fred we shouldn’t get anything on Wednesday, but it’s been a crazy season, so you never know… haha we’ll have more of an idea an hour before, when the line ups come out 😀

    Good post, btw Rocky 👍

  32. Thanks for the post Rocky. I really like Laca and was very pleased that he scored. He was lively and strong when he came off the bench and I’m sad that he has not been starting games. He offers the team so much more than Nketiah at the moment. And as someone else said, I love those goals he scores when he swivels in the box 😁

    If it was his run of poor form that kept him out of the team then I’m happy to be patient for him to get back to banging in the goals.

    I can’t choose which one we should sell …… I think Laca could play as a no 10, but I’ve bored you about that before.

  33. Look at him 😁😁😁

  34. You have to go through all the photos to the end.

  35. Mikel A says:

    Good post, Rocky. The modern game may be passing him by. In a starting 11 Laca has energy and drive but little impact. What is he actually good at? Use him as super sub but it’s time for Eddie or Martinelli to lead the line, or Auba with Saka on the wing.

  36. Aaron says:

    Rocky,

    Thought provoking post.

    Laca does some things well, and not. Poacher in the box, and scorer of goals about 1 every 2 games on a whole, but what he is not is a runner with the ball, wide player, or combination player on the counter, like many have mentioned that Firmino can do.

    What is Mikel looking for in the future? My guess not the former.

    The Arsenal need types who can run at players in the box, or fast on the counter to match the style that Mikel wants to create. Right now we do not have that type of player who can do this in midfield or as combination player to do this as a forward. So far, Pepe and Mesut have no chemistry, but then again they do not have a wingback behind them who can help create this type of overload on the right hand side, except AMN, who we all know has been banished to Mars, which is all the more puzzling as Mikel had been getting a lot out of AMN when he played on the right. Sok on the right works as a stop gap, but nothing else, until either Soares, Bel or AMN gets their play to a reasonable level.

    Can’t wait to see Tierney and Saka on the left.

    Going to be interesting for the $h*tTy game, as Sergio was subbed, De Bruyne has been hurt, and their D has not been that great as of late, still good though, also Mendy on the right looked like a statue, and his crosses were horrendous.

    Can Mikel keep the defense improving, as he has, and get some semblance of a midfield?

    We shall see, as these next few games could give an injection of confidence to the squad before that horror show run in.

  37. RC78 says:

    @Peaches and Rasp – just sent in a post

  38. Thanks RC, I’m on it

  39. Morning all

    There’s a New Post ……………..

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