Alexandre Lacazette in fine form for Arsenal of late

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette scored twice as the Gunners thrashed West Ham United 4-1 in Sunday’s Premier League clash, taking his tally for the season to 15 goals in 34 games in all competitions. The French international endured a drought between December and January but has been in a rich vein form after returning from a two-month knee injury.

Lacazette joined Arsenal from Olympique Lyonnais last summer and got his Gunners career off to a perfect start with eight goals in his first 15 league appearances, averaging a goal every 69 minutes. However, his form dipped in mid-December and took four months to recover.

The 26-year-old scored just one league goal between mid-December and early-April but he’s since netted six in as many games in all competitions. A lot was expected of Lacazette following his arrival from Ligue 1, having netted 129 goals for Lyon prior to the Emirates switch.

Arsenal would have been licking their lips at the time of Lacazette’s signing, as they procured the signature of a centre-forward boasting 20+ league goals in his last three seasons.

  • 2016/17 (Ligue 1) 30 games, 28 goals, 3 assists
  • 2015/16 (Ligue 1) 34 games, 21 goals, 3 assists
  • 2014/15 (Ligue 1) 33 games, 27 goals, 6 assists

But he struggled to replicate such form in England which led to fears over his long-term future at the Emirates. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s arrival in January also didn’t help matters – the ex-Borussia Dortmund forward looked to be a direct replacement for Lacazette.

However, the pair have become friends at Arsenal and are relishing playing together rather than competing for one place in the squad – the pair even linked up for Lacazette to score his first goal of the game against the Hammers.

There’s still plenty more to come from the 26-year-old in an Arsenal shirt, but 18 goals contributed in 32 games is still a good return for a debutant. He’s 8th in the Premier League top scorer chart this season, netting more than Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) and Sadio Mane (Liverpool).

The problem with Lacazette is that he doesn’t create many chances (1.03-per-game) for teammates or play much of a role in building attacks (29 successful dribbles in 30 games), so his goal tally is the only way of a form indicator.

He’s pacey and has fantastic off-the-ball movement which could see him shine next season with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan supplying the bullets.

Per Mertesacker embraced the centre-forward after Arsenal’s win over West Ham, saying: “I told you if you work hard (you’ll score goals)” which hints that some teammate tutoring may be to thank for his upturn in form.

The win over United sees Arsenal four points clear of seventh-placed Burnley with a game in hand, while fifth-placed Chelsea remain six points ahead of the Gunners after 34 games.

Wenger’s men are 11 points off fourth-placed Tottenham with only 12 points remaining so it appears the Europa League is their only chance of getting Champions League football back for next season.

Before his injury, Lacazette may have been fearing the worst about his Arsenal future, but now he’ll be looking forward to representing as he looks full of confidence and is back among the goals.

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Crippy can be found on Twitter (@CrippyCooke). He is a sports journalist who has written for the Independent, Bleacher Report, Huffington Post, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph among others. Crippy treats football gossip with a dash of cynicism and loves tearing apart outlandish rumours.

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