I read two excellent articles after Saturday’s disappointing loss at Villa Park, both looking at Arsenal’s striker issues in slightly different ways. One described it as ‘our penalty box problem’. Both Lacazette and Aubameyang are top strikers with differing attributes, indeed the Arsenal captain, is arguably world class. However, the question raised is whether either, as a central striker are exactly what Arteta needs for his vision of Arsenal?
Aubameyang was simply brilliant at the end of last season, culminating in him scoring twice in the FA Cup Semi and the final. Looking back though, this was perhaps because in the counter tacking 343 formation, the Spanish coach, set the whole team up to counter on the right primarily before looking to switch play to Auba on the left, to finish the move. Centrally, where he has apparently suggested he want to play, this season has not gone to plan for our talisman.
Now in a 4231, the sole striker is required to drop deep to hold up the ball and the link play before then arriving in the box to hopefully finish the moves. This is not where our captain excels, although there is little doubt, when he puts his mind to it, he is capable of it. Consequently, of late, Arteta has reverted to using Lacazette centrally, where he has looked comfortable. The issue long-term is that while the Frenchman can hold the ball up well and thrives on the give and go action with Smith-Rowe of Saka, he is not seemingly hungry enough to then be in the right position, in the six-yard bios to finish the moves he helped initiate.
In short, our best a hungriest finisher shows little inclination to be involved early on the move, so is not getting the chances to finish, as the 4231 needs him to be. Whereas our alternative does the early work efficiently but is not finding the right positions to finish the moves. Lacazette is not as natural as finding space of getting across defenders as Aubameyang, whilst the Gabonese, so natural at that part of the striker role, does not assist in the earlier facets of the role.
The issue I feel is made worse for our skipper because I recent weeks Pepe has really stepped up on the left and is far more involved in Arsenal’s creative play. Aubameyang should be a beneficiary of the form of the Ivorian and indeed Saka, if he is selected centrally but he simply has to get involved in the less glamorous aspects of the role, in the 4231, as Lacazette does. Both strikers need to improve at the aspects of the role that do not come naturally or Arteta may look to Martinelli next season or indeed enter the market for a new more rounded player, with all the attributes.
I am sure there are a whole list of UK betting sites, already offering odds on summer transfer moves and with only a year left on his present deal I am sure Lacazette will be favourite to be sold in the next window. On the flip side the speculators will be contemplating the type of striker Arteta might want. In summary, as I said to a friend on social media, he needs and Olivier Giroud with pace! The French World Cup Winner was/is a superb finisher and one of the best at the hold up and link play in the 4231 he played in at Arsenal. What stopped him being a great was his lack of any speed across the ground. Therefore, Arteta will be looking for the whole package and perhaps Celtic’s Odsonne Eduoard is that man?
Time will tell, but a betting man would certainly anticipate a new striker arriving at the Emirates this summer, regardless of what happens between now and June. Where we can shop of course, may depend on either Auba or Laca stepping up to the aspects of the role that does not come naturally to them.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.