The two players joined their respective clubs in the summer of 2017 after years at the peak of European competition. Now, after a stop-start debut season in the English top flight, they appeared to have finally found their footing.
Both sides have enjoyed far finer form this season under their newly-recruited gaffers. Arsenal currently sit fifth with an undefeated record of 15 games in all competitions (as of writing this, prior to the Lisbon game), while Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri have comfortably climbed to second place behind Manchester City.
Chelsea and Arsenal both operate under similar systems. Last season, they both resorted to a three-at-the-back structure with a trio of attackers up top. Now, they have chosen a more traditional back four with, again, three players leading the attack.
The only difference comes in Arsenal’s support for their striker(s). Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan alternate to occupy the number 10 role, while Aubameyang features mostly on the left with Lacazette through the middle.
One of the many managerial headaches Arsene Wenger endured last season was trying to fit all of his key players into one starting XI. It looks as though Unai Emery has found a solution, one with fine balance.
Meanwhile, Sarri has used his favoured 4-3-3 system with Jorginho as a deep-lying playmaker accompanied by N’golo Kante and Ross Barkley either side of him in box-to-box roles.
In attack, Chelsea’s main man Eden Hazard runs the show on the left flank with Willian on the other. Then, much like Lacazette, Morata has been deployed in his preferred centre-forward position. That’s of course whenever he gets the nod ahead of former Gunner, Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal fans might want to look away now. Despite earning himself high praise from fans and pundits alike, Lacazette’s statistics show he’s not as threatening in front of goal as Morata.
Morata frustrated Chelsea fans throughout last season due to his tendency to miss important and ‘easy’ chances. This season, however, he’s proven to be more clinical.
Per game, Morata has managed 1.93 shots on target while his Arsenal counterpart manages just 1.09.
Crucially, Morata has tallied the same number of goals as Lacazette (five) in less games, meaning his goals per game ratio sits at an impressive 0.74.
Furthermore, the Spaniard record 3.86 attempts per game, while Lacazette has managed 2.78.
However, Lacazette has had to share goal-scoring responsibilities with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang has played predominantly out of position on the left wing. This means that when he makes his striding runs through the middle, the wider channels are left uncovered.
This Lacazette/Aubameyang partnership has a free-flowing nature that’s very reminiscent of Juventus this season. For the Old Lady, Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo constantly drift wide to allow the other to run through the middle in pursuit of finding the back of the net.
This new incarnation of a strike partnership is one that many clubs across Europe have used to great effect, particularly Arsenal.
Operating under a partnership may have hindered Lacazette’s goal-scoring output, but it allows the whole team to operate more like a well-oiled machine in attack.
More Than A Goalscorer
Lacazette’s contributions outside of scoring goals are, again, apparent in his statistics in the table above.
The Frenchman has the better of Morata in terms of assists per game with 0.2 compared to 0. Furthermore, he’s created at least one chance (1.09) compared to Morata’s 0.59.
Furthermore, Lacazette also finds the better of Morata in terms of pass completion. The Arsenal man has averaged 18.08 completed passes per game, while Morata has managed 16.63.
Upon comparing the statistics of both players, you can see that each stands out over the other within different aspects of their game.
Morata at Chelsea is surrounded by a group of players with creativity in abundance, leaving him the sole responsibility of putting the ball in the back of the net. Meanwhile, Arsenal are certainly lacking a player of Eden Hazard’s calibre.
Sure, the combination of Ozil and Mkhitaryan relieves Aubameyang and Lacazette of some creative duties. However, they’re nowhere near as reliable, nor consistent, as the mighty Belgian.
It would be difficult to find a striker whose goal-scoring output isn’t positively impacted when playing alongside Hazard.
While there are certainly areas of Morata and Lacazette’s game that warrant comparison, upon analysing their statistics it’s clear that each player has weaker aspects of their game that the other excels in.
Morata poses much more of a physical presence. A ‘traditional’ number nine, if you like. The Spaniard is at his most dangerous when inside the box getting on the end of a cross.
Meanwhile, Lacazette has formed a partnership with Aubameyang that’s brought other aspects of his game to the fore. As well as scoring goals for himself, he has improved his ability to serve his team-mates.
Despite Arsenal sitting three places behind the Blues in the Premier League table, just four points separate the two. It’s hard to predict who would have enjoyed a far more successful campaign come May.
Until then, let’s just sit back and enjoy each side’s enticing football.