Arsenal will be looking for a fresh start when they return to action, so what does that mean for Alexandre Lacazette? Does he return or stay seated?
With the restart coming tomorrow, Mikel Arteta will be making some last-minute decisions as Arsenal look to get started with a massive statement match against Manchester City. For the Gunners, the big question is who they turn to up top. Namely, do they return to Alexandre Lacazette or do they pretend like the season never paused and stick to the previous script?
Before the season paused, Mikel Arteta had gone three straight Premier League matches with Eddie Nketiah starting up top. While Nketiah only scored the one goal against Everton (and what a goal it was), he also struck the post twice and otherwise had really positive appearances.
Meanwhile, Lacazette as a sub played just 36 minutes but scored two goals and added an assist. As such, both Nketiah and Lacazette have a claim.
Arsenal’s biggest question—what to do with Alexandre Lacazette?
For Nketiah, he has done nothing to lose the job. He’s been a consistent performer and for the sake of the future, he has to feel that it’s still on him to keep the job until he loses it.
Not least of all because the Lacazette exit rumors are coming in hard and fast.
For Lacazette, though, he has scored better as a sub than he had after so many starts in the Premier League. This is Lacazette’s job, or at least it always has been, so to play devil’s advocate, he may feel that he has earned the job back even if Nketiah hasn’t lost it.
Manchester City is a whole different ballgame too. Does Arteta just revert to choosing his best players? Does form matter? There are so many factors at play here that makes this such a difficult decision to make, but what this comes down to is what the future of Lacazette and Nketiah mean to Arteta and to the club.
If Arteta sees no way that Lacazette should stay, he should stick with Nketiah. Also because Lacazette has been doing so well off the bench. And again, it’s not like Nketiah has been poor in any way. He’s played the part.
But the game may feel more important than just another match, and Arteta may feel the need to choose experience and pedigree over youthful enthusiasm, especially if momentum isn’t a factor, which it really can’t be anymore.
The verdict? While I would stick with Nketiah, Arteta probably won’t. This match is so important and with Nketiah still a variable, maximizing Lacazette could be key to salvaging this season.