Lacazette is currently in the middle of a very polarizing season. Coming off of being our player of the season last year we had high expectations for the Frenchman coming into the year leading the line. But it is fair to say the fall off of this season has been drastic, which has been very worrying because I find it very shocking how far he has dropped off. I think if he was just out of form I think he would still be performing at a very high level with a good work rate and just not have the same goal tally from last year. But I think it is clear that this season he has lacked in all areas. I think there are a culmination of reasons that Lacazette has not preformed this season, his injury at the start of the season, low confidence from not starting the season well and the new role he is playing under Mikel Arteta.
The injury began in the preseason during the Emirates Cup where Lacazette limped off the field against Lyon. It is originally reported as a minor injury and Lacazette would end up playing through it. It was concerning that he left that game leaving in a protective boot, but Emery played it down and Laca was available for the first game of the season so no one paid any mind to it. But it is my personal observation that while Lacazette started out well, game by game he looked a little bothered and looked fatigued. Whether it was his ankle flaring up or it was the time he took off before the season started only he will know that for sure but I would love to dig into the sport science behind it. After the Tottenham 2-2 draw on September 1st where he grabbed a nice goal but was subbed off with cramps, while he did a lot of hard work that game it did not necessarily look like he was tired or cramping anywhere significant, but he was walking fairly slowly before he came off so you could definitely tell it was a leg issue. My theory of what caused this ankle flare up that ended up to Laca being out for sometime is the hold up play that Lacazette does, the notorious “twerking” Laca does puts a lot of pressure on the ankle trying to plant your feet into the ground fighting off a defender. I also think there is some evidence that when Lacazette picks up a knock he can not really play through injury. Back in his first season he picked up a knee injury his form suddenly dropped and he was not scoring. Wenger attributed the goal drought to his knee injury, and when Laca returned he was able to return to some form.
I think confidence has a big role to play in his dip in form. I think it is very evident when Laca is playing with full confidence you can see it in his play and interactions with the players around him its like night and day. But with this cold start for the injury return not scoring goals and the squad as a whole not enjoying Unai and the switching to new managers twice he does seem down. I would blame his lack of confidence on his lack of ability to finish this year, he just has not trusted himself infront of goal and passing off chances. I think in the most recent game against Leiscter is the best we have seen Lacazette all season having confidence after bagging a goal against wolves.
Its also important to look at the new role Lacazette is playing under Arteta. While people love making the comparison to the Firmino role its very similar to it having to come deep and help the mid field in build up play. While think this is not Lacazette’s ideal role I think he can definitely do a job there as his dribbling is definitely above average for a striker and is good at small interplay passes. With that being said I do think that sacrifices his penalty box ability quite a bit, he is always behind the ball when its in a packed box and will pass it off. And I think a pattern is developing in his striker substitution pattern having the striker come off the 65~70 min period so his on field time is cut down and being a striker that is your best chance to score when the defense begins to get tired.
So I think if Eddie stays suspended for the three games this will be a crucial run of games for Laca to maybe find some consistency and form during the run as he will be the only choice striker as I do not see Auba coming in as the striker. I hope we see the Laca we voted player of the year last year.