Player Zone: Alexandre Lacazette stakes his claim to be Arsenal’s main man

Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette put in a man of the match performance as the Gunners secured their first away victory of the season with their defeat of Cardiff City on Sunday. 

It was a hard fought tie at the Cardiff City Stadium as the hosts notched their first two goals of the Premier League campaign to twice peg the North Londoners back from winning positions. However, Lacazette thumped a strike into the top corner from a tight angle late on to ensure that his side emerged with all three points.

It capped off a fine all-round display from the Frenchman, who also registered an assist when his delightful flick sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through to score Arsenal’s second of the afternoon. 

Beyond end product, the Frenchman produced the consummate centre-forward’s display. The striker mustered five shots throughout the match, three of which were on target – in both instances he led all players on the pitch. 

This was the first time both Lacazette and Aubameyang had been included in the starting line up by Emery and the pair’s chemistry and slick combination play made the Gunners a potent attacking force. 

As fine a finisher as Arsenal’s number 9 is, he also showed himself to be an equally adept creator against Cardiff. Only Aaron Ramsey produced more than Lacazette’s three key passes. With such goal threats as Aubameyang, Welbeck, Ozil and Ramsey in the side, having a centre-forward capable of providing goalscoring opportunities for others should prove vital this season.

Not only was Lacazette effective and inventive on the ball against the Welsh outfit, he was also secure in possession and his hold up play was often crucial in allowing Arsenal to clear their lines and alleviate the pressure on their defence. The forward registered a 73% pass completion rate, and made 33 passes over the course of the ninety minutes.

On top of that, he won three aerial duels, made one interception, drew two fouls from his opponents and completed a single dribble. These statistics demonstrate how Lacazette was able to physically compete very successfully with the imposing Cardiff defence. 

Having been assigned to the bench for the start of the first three Premier League games of the season, on Sunday Lacazette staked an impressive claim for future inclusions from the off. His performance must have given Emery a selection headache moving forward, but it’s the kind of problem that’s nice to have.

Despite having been brought in for a club-record fee in January, Aubameyang may soon find himself playing second fiddle to Lacazette for the central berth in the side if the France international can keep this kind of form up.