Alexandre Lacazette has just completed his second season at Arsenal with a great performance. The Frenchman improved his numbers compared to the 2017/2018 season, his first in the London team. In his first season, still with Arsène Wenger as a coach, he scored 20 goals and made four assists. In this 2018/2019 season, Unai Emery has given more prominence to Lacazette and he responded with more goals and more assists.
But in addition to his goals and assists, Lacazette has added more features to his game. This season he was much more collaborative with the rest of the team. That made him form a very good duo with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, his team-mate in Arsenal’s attack and with whom he understood perfectly.
The following tactical analysis will show with some statistics a summary of Alexandre Lacazette’s season. His goals, his numbers, his characteristics, his influence on the game and why he is one of the best strikers in Europe and one of the most important players for Emery at Arsenal.
Area of influence
The first thing to bear in mind when analyzing the performance of Lacazette is his area of influence within the pitch and throughout the season. Lacazette is not just a striker who remains static in the area waiting for the ball to reach his feet.
On the heat map of his entire season, we can see how Lacazette has his main zone of influence outside the area despite being a striker. This means that he is a player who constantly goes out to look for the ball and ask for it. This allows Aubameyang and the outside midfielders to be released.
If we divide the pitch by zones as in the picture, the areas where Alexandre Lacazette comes into play are clear. The zones six, seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11 are the zones where Lacazette handles best in a match. They match, of course, with his heat map.
In addition, he performed a total of 2776 actions throughout the season. This means that he came into play with the ball 2776 times in all matches. Of those actions, he triumphed in 1276 – almost half. That’s 46% of the total number of actions. Lacazette is a player from whom it is difficult to take the ball or win the position.
The picture below is an example of Lacazette’s actions in his last three games of the season: the Europa League final against Chelsea, the second round against Valencia in the Europa League and the last Premier League match against Brighton & Hove Albion. The areas where Lacazette performs most of his actions coincide with his heat map and his zones of influence.
One of the main characteristics of the Frenchman is his ability to withstand the pressure of the opposing player. Lacazette uses his body very well and normally beats the position of the player who takes it. That’s why their partners usually use long aerial balls so that Lacazette can take them down thanks to his good physical abilities.
Even within the area, where it is usually a zone with few spaces, Lacazette regularly succeeds. In the image, you can see how Lacazette holds the ball against three players from Valencia who are marking him. The good posture of his body means that the pressure of the defenders does not take effect. In addition, he has his back to the goal and manages to turn around to find the goalkeeper’s left post.
As for passes, the Frenchman made a total of 1104 for the entire season with an effectiveness rate of 76.4%. That is to say, of 1104 in total 843 were exact passes to his teammates. A very high average that indicates that Lacazette fails very little in his passes. The image shows the example of Lacazette’s passes in the last three games of the season. His average number of passes per game is 25.67.
In addition, we can usually see Lacazette playing on the flanks, i.e. on the outer lanes of the pitch. These movements are made to drag his marker around, and so that the players who go through the internal lanes can free themselves and enter the area to reach goal-scoring positions. With this, Lacazette frees up spaces and demonstrates that tactically he is a player who understands the game.
Logically, the attacking phase is Lacazette’s strongest point and where he performs best as a player. This season he scored 24 goals and made 12 assists. In other words, he took part in 36 goals, adding goals and assists. Lacazette played 3871 minutes throughout the season, that is, he participated in a goal every 104.9 minutes.
In addition, Lacazette made a total of 114 shots throughout the 2018/2019 season. Of those 111 shots, 53 went straight to the goal. That is, 47.4% of the shots.
Another of his main features in attack is his good vision of the play. Not only with key passes inside the area, but also outside it. In other words, Lacazette at times acts as an attacking midfielder with important passes to assist his team-mates. Unfortunately, many of those passes have not ended in a goal, but his 47 shot assists during the whole season indicate that it is a strength of the Frenchman.
One more Lacazette quality to consider is his dribbling. In the whole season, he performed a total of 153 dribbles. Of those 153 dribbles, 102 were successful, 66.7% of the total. This indicates that Lacazette uses dribbling as a good resource to get a rival player off his back. Although it is not a much-used resource by the Frenchman, statistics indicate that he is almost always successful in all duels. Lacazette averages 3.56 dribbles per game.
Although the defensive phase is not his strongest point, the French player made some interesting contributions when Arsenal did not have possession of the ball.
In terms of interceptions, Lacazette made a total of 87 throughout the season, averaging a total of two interceptions per game. Interceptions are usually successful when the player is well positioned on the pitch. Lacazette has that quality, he handles time and space very well. Having a good sense of location makes it easier to cover pass lines and thus intercept a pass.
In addition, Lacazette is always at the front post when defending corners. It’s common to see the Frenchman clearing all the balls that go into that area. These interceptions are important, and are enabled because one of Lacazette’s main qualities is his heading ability
In addition, Lacazette made a total of 126 recoveries throughout the season. The Frenchman is the first defender when the team loses the ball in attack zones. Lacazette is a player who often anticipates the move and when he loses the ball he immediately presses the player carrying the ball. That fighting spirit is one of his main characteristics.
And in terms of fouls, he made a total of 77 in the entire season. That is 1.79 fouls on average per game. This indicates that he is a player who removes the ball in a clean way when it is his turn to defend. He is not a player who makes many fouls.
Lacazette is proving as the seasons go by that he is a more mature player on the pitch. He has evolved in his game and is seen as a more complete player as the matches go by. With Unai Emery, he had other functions that were not seen before, such as positioning himself on the outside lanes of the pitch and constantly leaving the area to receive the ball. He is a more collaborative and committed player with the team. In addition, his scoring ability has not been lost, as he is still lethal in front of goal.
Today he is one of the best strikers in Europe and one of Arsenal’s key players. That’s why several European teams have set their sights on the Frenchman and want him in their squads for next season. Despite his contract with Arsenal expiring in 2022, the London club will have to make an effort to retain him in the 2019/2020 season. Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the next Champions League will be a problem when it comes to putting together the squad.
The future of Alexandre Lacazette will be one of the main news of the transfer window.