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The Art Of Finishing – A Look At Alexandre Lacazette’s Meteoric Rise

Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette

The Art Of Finishing – A Look At Alexandre Lacazette’s Meteoric Rise

Over the years, Arsenal have been starved of a strong finisher up front. It is certainly not easy to find a forward who is strong at finishing. Take a look at Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, for example. He is excelling on all fronts for the Reds but he has struggled majorly when it comes to connecting the dots seamlessly. It is one thing to shoot on target but it is an entirely different thing to be able to score while running and when under pressure. These are two qualities Arsenal’s summer acquisition Alexandre Lacazette seems to possess in abundance.

The Frenchman was a part of Lyon’s academy and he rose through the ranks rapidly to establish himself as a mainstay for the French side. He spent about 8 years with the club, during the course of which he blossomed into one of the best players in Ligue 1. His magnificent displays attracted attention from foreign clubs and Arsenal were interested in him for around 2 summers, following which he finally joined them earlier this year. The move to join the Gunners was undoubtedly a big one for the player and it seemed like his years of hard work were starting to pay off.

He arrived at Arsenal with sky-high expectations from a set of fans desperate to see some quality new faces at their club. Manager Arsene Wenger has been subjected to a lot of criticism for his lack of activity in most transfer windows but he truly made some promising signings over the summer. One was Sead Kolasinac, who arrived on a free transfer. The other was the spectacular Lacazette, who was signed for a club record fee. Initially, there were doubts, since the fans were cautious about how quickly he would be able to settle into the demands and rigours of the Premier League.

However, from the first time he set foot on the ground in an Arsenal jersey, Lacazette displayed glimpses of the quality which prompted Wenger to target him for about two seasons and then ultimately sign him. He went on to score in his first 3 Premier League games at home for the Gunners and displayed ruthless predatory instincts – and that was something Arsenal fans were dying to see. Lacazette’s movement and influence in the final third is perhaps the most splendid quality about him.

Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League

Over the last couple of seasons, a lot of strikers came and went for Arsenal but none of them managed to create as much of an impact as Lacazette already has. They struggled in all the areas that the Frenchman is excelling in. A look at his stats only further strengthens the fact that he has been a force to be reckoned with at Arsenal, with his sublime finishing and work-rate in the final third.

In 15 appearances in the league, Lacazette has already scored 8 goals and provided 1 assist. He has managed to do all this even though there have been times when he has been restricted to the bench during important games. Quite unsurprisingly, the Gunners have struggled in those matches where Wenger chose to set him aside.

In the last few matches (exceptions do exist), Arsenal have displayed a vintage style of attacking football that has truly impressed their fans. There’s still a lot of debate as to whether or not Wenger should quit as the manager but as far as the attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Lacazette is concerned, the fans hardly have any reason to complain.

Sanchez brings about an innate sense of trickery and pace while Ozil makes things work with his creative advances. Lacazette – the darling of Arsenal fans, uses his enviable finishing skills to slot the ball into the net. Regardless of whether or not Sanchez and Ozil continue with Arsenal beyond this season, there is no denying that the presence of Lacazette has amplified their performances as well.

A look at Lacazette’s many YouTube video compilations is enough to deduce that he does not lack variety when it comes to scoring goals. For example, he can do a simple tap-in, a sublime side-foot finish and even strike from a distance. A naturally right-footed player, Lacazette is also quite adept at cutting in to take advantage of whatever the situation has to offer. An out-and-out poacher, the Frenchman has taken up a role up front for the Gunners that very few have been able to do before him.

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That said, when the transfer rumours were swirling around, there were concerns regarding his physique. It is quite evident that the likes of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck offer greater physicality. Although that was a potential area of concern, the fact remains that the Gunners rarely ever use mere physical strength in terms of scoring goals. Lacazette’s movement is calculated and economical. He prefers to make tiny and subtle movements to get through tight spaces unscathed and that has worked in Wenger’s favour so far.

The manager brought him in to score goals and Lacazette has delivered so far. There is the age-old pearl of wisdom which suggests that good defences win the title but truth be told, the Premier League has been won more times by teams with a blistering attack with a goal-scoring machine leading the line.

Take a look at Manchester City, for example. Nobody has even spoken about their defence since everybody is so hypnotised by their electrifying attack. To put things in perspective for Arsenal, they have not come close to being the league’s top goalscorers since 2004-05. That does paint a worrisome statistic but with Lacazette up front, they do have the potential to restore their reputation as deadly attackers.

All this while, Arsenal had Giroud and Welbeck but neither of the two was strong enough to be the striker up front. Giroud can finish well but he is slow during counters whereas Welbeck can run but he is weak at finishing. In that sense, Lacazette seems to be the ideal amalgamation of the duo and there is no limiting as to how far he can go if he continues this way for the Gunners.