Are we witnessing the return of the old Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal?
What a difference a week makes! With much of the talk before Christmas consisting of fans nervously contemplating the dreadful prospect of relegation, Arsenal have responded emphatically with three wins in a row, the latest instalment being a thumping 4-0 victory away to West Brom, and we are now within touching distance of the coveted Champions League spots.
There have been many positives to note over the last seven days, such as the incredible impact of Emile Smith Rowe, the consistently impressive performances of Bukayo Saka and the staunch rear-guard action demonstrated by summer signing Pablo Marí.
However, one of the most heartening aspects of our change in fortunes has been the surprising resurgence of our much-maligned centre forward Alexandre Lacazette.
Lacazette has experienced quite a turbulent campaign to date. After netting in each of Arsenal’s first three league games of the season, he then endured a run of eight matches without a goal, and even had a short spell playing almost exclusively in an attacking midfield role.
Since then, his clinical touch has returned and he continued his recent run of form with two goals at The Hawthorns.
While Lacazette’s rejuvenation may have come unexpectedly for disillusioned supporters, it is not a coincidence that the Frenchman has come to life in recent games. Following a sluggish November, he has looked much sharper over the festive period, operating as the focal point of the side, and has benefitted hugely from the movement of the Hale End youngsters around him.
With energy and confidence coursing through the squad at the moment, the former Lyon man has been far more effective when dropping deep to receive the ball. Increasing dynamism around the box means his link-up play is proving more influential than before and he is making greater efforts to get into promising areas and capitalise on the chances created by our ingenious academy products.
The brace in the West Midlands takes Lacazette to seven goals for the season and his current purple patch has come at a time when Arsenal have needed it most. Despite some fans not being convinced of his ability, Mikel Arteta clearly has a lot of faith in him, with the boss previously admitting to “appreciating the qualities” he brings to the team.
After a very difficult couple of months for everyone associated with the club, Arsenal are now starting to climb the table and are primed for a European challenge in the coming weeks. The trust Arteta has placed in experience, along with the contributions of the youth, is finally paying off.
It looks like we might have our Lacazette back, too.