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Arsenal are getting that winning feeling back with two back to back victories after tough games against Manchester City and Chelsea. The game against Cardiff, however, was the first that Alexandre Lacazette started under Unai Emery and proved this should be happening more regularly. Our tactical analysis will tell you how below:

Lacazette Proved Himself

The Frenchman started centrally with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out to the left. As the central striker, Lacazette continued to do what he had done in his cameos and had a very positive impact on the game.

However, this wasn’t just when he was on the ball but also when acting as Arsenal’s first line of defence.

Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
Offering something that Aubameyang doesn’t to the same degree, Lacazette puts the squeeze on the Cardiff defence with great intensity.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
A deceptively strong player, Lacazette engages the Cardiff defender, does well to hold him off and steal the ball in the process.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
In holding off the defender, Lacazette has also given his teammates time to get up the pitch. On the counter-attack, Arsenal have multiple spaces to attack and do so once Lacazette plays in Ramsey in between the lines.

This is a very underrated aspect of Lacazette’s game. His willingness to unnerve the opposition defence physically is something that should lend itself extremely well to Emery’s style of playing. Wanting Arsenal to press high up the pitch, with Lacazette showing he’s able to do that, this could lead to more counter-attacks over the course of the season.

Lacazette’s Movement

Throughout the game, Lacazette looked razor sharp. A big part of this was his movement off the ball as he was able to pull off into open spaces with ease. Continuously losing markers, he deserves credit for not giving up as this movement ended up changing the game:

Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
Having drifted in front of the defender, Lacazette doesn’t switch off. Rather than stand still, he’s on the move and tells Lucas Torreira, who had a great game, exactly where he wants the ball.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
Torreira plays the ball and the massive space Lacazette finds himself is a direct cause of him being that step ahead. Lacazette’s touch also helps as the ball sticks to his boot.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
With the Cardiff defender stretching, Lacazette is ice cool with his thunderous and confident finish.

Should Lacazette continue to start after the international break, his movement will be very encouraging. He should continue to make intelligent runs off defenders and even if he isn’t found, that will create space for others to take advantage of in front of the defence.

Ozil Coming Deep To Combat Cardiff

As the game went on, Cardiff, who showed great intensity in the first half high up the pitch started to sit off a bit.

Happy to let Arsenal have somewhat meaningless possession for the most part, this changed with a change of positioning. Mesut Ozil spent the first hour or so in the game as a more advanced midfielder, however, when Cardiff dropped off, he repeatedly came deep to dictate play.

Popping up so deep, he was often unmarked which led to him helping Arsenal regain their lead:

Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
Here, Ozil is the deepest lying midfielder. With this he has great space to work with and time to decide where to move the play.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
Ozil holds the ball and isn’t pressed. In this time, Lacazette makes a selfless run into the highlighted space to give him an option. This run, however, also drags the Cardiff defender with him as he has to react quickly.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
The defender’s reaction leaves a massive space in behind which is exploited by Lacazette’s cheeky flick to Aubameyang who scores once taking up the highlighted space.

On his five year anniversary at Arsenal, Ozil yet again showed a side of his game that goes underappreciated by the masses at times.

Some may say ‘it was only Cardiff’ but he was able to get a feel for the match and adapt in the necessary way. Dropping deeper where he knew he wouldn’t be followed on multiple occasions he began to pull strings and was rewarded with his involvement in the second goal.

Cardiff’s Set Pieces

However, as the scoreline suggests, Cardiff didn’t back down and were able to frustrate Arsenal for decent periods of the game.

One way they did this was by pressing high which put Petr Cech and the Arsenal defence under a lot of pressure and caused a few decent turnovers.

However, when they had the ball, one way they unsettled Arsenal was with their set pieces. Throughout the game, Cardiff proved to have a clear and effective plan from set pieces. That was to find Sean Morrison.

Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
In the first half Morrison was found at almost every free kick. Here although being marked by two players, he was able to knock the ball into the highlighted space where Harry Arter skied the volley.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
With this plan of attack working, Cardiff kept at and it paid off. Morrison is found again, this time only being covered by one man and he wins the duel with ease.
Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal Alexandre Lacazette Tactical Analysis
Similar to Arter in the first half, Danny Ward was in that free space waiting for the knockdown. This time, however, he took full advantage.

For a while, this is where Arsenal have had to improve in defence. Not just on set pieces but doing the boring things all game long. We see that the Arsenal players noticed Morrison was a danger in the first half by doubling up on him, so why change in the second half?

Of course, this is just a small detail but on another day, that small detail of keeping within the routine could have prevented that goal.


Overall, in this game, we saw some very encouraging signs. We got to see how Lacazette fits into the team from the start and why he should be starting to give the Arsenal attack more balance and variety.

Along with Ozil’s performance, we saw a great cameo from Torreira where he seemed to be everywhere. I would’ve liked to fit him into this piece but didn’t want to make it too long, maybe sometime soon.

However, yet again we saw reasons for concern with the main one being concentration. From Petr Cech playing out of the back to the general concentration at set pieces this still needs to improve.

With Arsenal getting some momentum the international break isn’t coming at a great time but hopefully, the side can return well against Newcastle.