Saturday, July 8, 2017

Is Lacazette the Answer?

As I’m sure anyone with a social media account now knows, Arsenal have signed forward Alexandre Lacazette for a club record fee of £46.5 million (rising to £52.6 million with add ons). It must be said that it is a great transfer, not just for The Gunners but also the Premier League and in today’s market, should be considered a steal!

Alexandre Lacazette is now Arsenal's record signing.
The new signing scored 28 league goals last season for Lyon, finishing up as the league’s second top goalscorer. He was also included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year as well as the Europa League Team of the Year.

Yes it was a very impressive season for the French international but I just have one question...what difference will he make at Arsenal?

Last season Lacazette had 84 chances in the league and scored 28 goals. This means that he scores 33% of the chances he’s presented (or 1 in every 3 chances if you prefer). Just to put that into perspective, Harry Kane scores 26% of the chances he gets, meaning he needs 4 chances on average to hit the back of the net.

If this was on Soccer AM it'd have been right in the top bins!
Other examples would be Costa and Alexis Sanchez who both scored 18% of the chances they get (1 goal every 5 chances) whilst Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored only 14% and 15% respectively (roughly 1 goal ever 6 chances).

Not many Premier League strikers came close to Alexandre. The closest striker to Lacazette’s finishing record was fellow Frenchman and Arsenal man Olivier Giroud! Giroud scored 12 goals out of 38 chances giving him a chances scored percentage of 32%.

Statistically Lacazette and Giroud are just as clinical in front of goal as each other.
You could argue that those stats mean nothing but when you think about it Lacazette had over double the chances that Giroud did. So you could say that if you give Giroud and Lacazette the same amount of chances, in theory they should score the same amount of chances. This begs the question though, why didn’t Giroud have as many chances?

Arsenal arguably have better creative players in Ozil and Sanchez, with Lyon relying mainly on Premier League reject Memphis Depay for creative flair. But what Lyon had that Arsenal lacked was a world class holding midfield player...

The North London club for a number of years now have lacked that player who can regain possession quickly, who can win the ball back further up the pitch and keep up the pressure on the opposition. Bruno Genesio had that player in his Olympique Lyonnais side last season. A 28 year old named Maxime Gonalons.

Gonalons cost Roma €5 million. €5 blinking million!
I don’t like throwing this term around lightly but Gonalons last season was world class! In 29 appearances he made 128 tackles and 67 interceptions, meaning he won the ball back on average 6.72 times per game. Since these stats look better with a little perspective, Victor Wanyama made 90 tackles and 40 interceptions giving him an average of 3.61 possession wins per game.

Other examples include Ander Herrera who had an average of 5.32 possession wins per game and N’Golo Kante who had an average of 6 per game. Arsenal’s choices in this role are either Coquelin (4.34 per game) or Xhaka (3.75 per game) who, despite being fan favourites, don’t really live up to other top level defensive midfielders in the division.

If Wenger was going to sign anyone from Lyon it had to be Gonalons. Another Frenchman who has just made a move to Roma for a frankly ridiculous €5 million. €5 fucking million! Victor Wanyama cost £12 million and Gonalons had double the average possession wins. €5 million is a steal!

Did Arsenal ever really replace this legend?
For Arsenal to improve they need to build from the back by bringing in a class defensive midfield player like Gonalons. One that slips under the radar is Oriol Romeu for Southampton. Last season he made 116 tackles and 88 interceptions in 35 games, meaning he won the ball back on average 5.83 times per game. He’s definitely the kind of player that Arsenal need right now, not Lacazette.

Now I don’t want to make out like lacazette will be poor. I actually believe he’ll do very well for Arsenal. All I’m saying is that if this is Arsenal’s only big money buy this transfer window then my money is on another average season for them...

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Cheers for reading.

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