The imminent announcement of Alexandre Lacazette’s arrival at the Emirates will have everyone – including myself – excited.
Signing one of the hottest strikers in Europe (the Frenchman scored an astonishing 37 times last season) is a brilliant addition to the Gunners squad and a real signal of intent ahead of the new season.
While Olivier Giroud can consider himself hard done by, Arsenal have lacked what you would deem a ‘world-class’ centre forward since the departure of Thierry Henry, so bringing in a man who has the footballing world almost at his feet is terrific.
But will he fit in at Arsenal? There is no reason to suggest a forward of his ability will not, and there is furthermore no reason to suggest that the France international cannot play ‘the Arsenal way’, however if you look at his record at Lyon, one thing is clear: he needs wide men.
Throughout his time at Lyon, or at the very least his most successful times over the past three seasons, Lacazette has operated as a lone striker, with wide men either side.
Those wide men, in the form of Maxwell Cornet, Memphis Depay, Nabil Fekir, Mathieu Valbuena and more, have all been key contributors to the striker’s success.
Far better with his feet than his head, the wide men in Lyon’s side over the past seasons have not only delivered service to the Frenchman’s feet from crosses and cut-backs, but also allow space for Lacazette to run in behind by taking defenders wide.
The importance of the aforementioned can be clearly seen in the looking at the stats of both Lacazette and his team-mates and wingers Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and Maxwell Cornet in Ligue 1 last season.
Of Lacazette’s 27 goals, 23 were with his right foot, 25 came from inside the box and 23 in front or in line with the penalty area.
The men providing those chances for him, Fekir and Cornet for the most part, utilised wide areas more than anywhere else on the pitch to serve Lacazette his chances. Of the formers 58 chances created, nearly 75% of them came from wide on the right, while only 10% came from central areas. For the latter, the same pattern emerges, but this time 100% of Cornet’s 21 chances created coming from the wide right.
Onto the opposite wing and Memphis Depay: the same. 90% of his chances created in Ligue 1 came from wide areas.
Arsenal lack what you would deem ‘natural’ wingers. If Wenger wants Lacazette to show his best form he will either have to utilise Alexis Sanchez, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott out on the touchline more often; rely on the service of Bellerin and Kolasinac; or alternatively, search the transfer market.