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Alexandre Lacazette challenging his doubters

Alexandre Lacazette produced an excellent performance in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Liverpool. He is once again challenging his doubters.

It has been a difficult season for Alexandre Lacazette. After being named Arsenal’s Player of the Season last year, the Frenchman’s form has suffered this year, failing to live up to the expectations of his former performances or that of his great strike partner, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

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Where Aubameyang has maintained his elite scoring, Lacazette’s has fallen off a cliff. He went more than a year without scoring an away goal in a domestic competition. From the start of December to the end of February, he scored just one Premier League goal. There were growing questions of his value to the team, with many arguing that the prolific Aubameyang should play through the middle instead.

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However, while Lacazette’s fluctuating form is reminiscent of Olivier Giroud and is concerning for a striker of a team wanting to challenge for a top-four finish, in recent weeks, he has rediscovered his groove as Arsenal’s starting centre-forward, producing some of his best displays of the entire season.

He was excellent in the North London Derby at the weekend. His scored a scorcher from distance, lashing home a right-footed strike into the top corner. He then worked tirelessly throughout and was exceptional at dropping into midfield and linking play.

Then, three days later, he started in a false-nine-like position in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool. He was again excellent at holding the ball up and releasing pressure. He won several fouls, helped move the team up the pitch at crucial moments, and even protected the ball deep in his own half. He was fed by scraps, but Lacazette did his best to cause the Liverpool backline problems.

He also produced two moments of elite quality to hand Arsenal the victory. He first intercepted Virgil van Dijk’s under-hit backpass and then showed ample composure to round Alisson Becker and slide the ball into the empty net. Minutes later, Alisson then played a poor pass wide. Lacazette pounced on the loose ball before finding Reiss Nelson with an excellent cross.

Since the restart, he has played 414 Premier League minutes. He has three goals and two assists. He also provided an assist in 67 minutes against Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-final. On the season, he now has 12 goals and five assists in all competitions. In just 1,728 Premier League minutes, he has 10 goals and four assists.

Lacazette has not performed at the level he did last season. And question marks still remain regarding his long-term value. He is now 29, has two years remaining on his contract, and Arsenal need to make a decision on his future this summer if they to extract the greatest value from his situation.

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But when questions were asked about his quality, Lacazette has responded. He is challenging his doubters and proving that he is still uniquely important to this Arsenal team.

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