Alexandre Lacazette Needs to Find Fourth Gear

Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images) /

Throughout his Arsenal career, Alexandre Lacazette has matched patches of brilliance with long droughts of poor performance. He needs to find another gear, and fast.

Transfer rumors have been swirling around Alexandre Lacazette recently, with a number of big clubs like Juventus, Atletico Madrid, and, oddly, Liverpool listed. But given Arsenal’s impotence when it comes to selling players, I expect the Frenchman to be at the club come October.

But if and when Arsenal’s 2018/19 Player of the Season stays at the club, he will have to change himself to fit the mold of the new Arsenal. Because as good as he is, he has never really fulfilled his potential in England. That ends this season, one way or another.

We’ve seen Lacazette on fire this season, whether dropping deep and creating chances from a false-nine role, or stepping up and scoring thunderbolts, notably in both north London Derby matches. At times, he’s been the glue holding our attack together. That’s Lacazette in third gear.

But we all know his faults. 13 consecutive scoreless matches, an ever-present confidence monster, and his seeming inability to perform without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the field still cripple the 29-year-old’s play, That’s Lacazette stalling, and it’s up to him to solve those problems.

What Will it Take for Lacazette to Find Fourth Gear?

In a word: consistency. Lacazette must eliminate his mistakes and overcome his faults, even as he puts up the goalscoring feats of which we know he’s capable. To do that simultaneously is a big ask, but in order for him to continue his time at the club, nothing less will do.

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For a start, he needs to find his best role within the squad tactically. Will he be employed in the Dennis Bergkamp false-nine role, as he was towards the tail end of the season? Will he play as an out-and-out striker, poaching goals and connecting on crosses like there’s no tomorrow? Consistency isn’t just in the numbers, it’s about finding a groove.

Which brings me to my next point. Fitness is the other major obstacle that has stood in the Frenchman’s way over his Arsenal tenure. A series of small, niggling ankle injuries, and inconsistent performances that leave him bereft of playing time, often leave him struggling to find his rhythm in games.

His issues often walk hand-in-hand, which makes a wholesale solution much harder to find. But nobody said it would be easy, and considering the ruthlessness with which Arteta is handling this Arsenal squad, it won’t be. But it’s now or never.

Despite all the positives he brings to this Arsenal side, he’s the weakest link in the £180m chain that forms our front three. And with Eddie Nketiah waiting in the wings, this must be the season he proves that he is the same player we signed from Lyon.

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Perhaps he can learn from and improve upon his past blunders. Perhaps not. But this is a summer of reckoning for a good portion of Arsenal’s squad, and nobody more so than Lacazette. This is do-or-die time for the mercurial Frenchman.