Arsenal’s uninspiring 3-0 loss to Liverpool has prompted another inquest after conceding three goals either side of the international break to West Ham and Liverpool.
Despite admitting after the game that he was “shocked” by the performance, Mikel Arteta must rejig his squad over the summer and will be more aware now of the players he can begin to rely on going forward.
Their academy youngsters have been incredible and there are indications he wants to put trust in young players next season.
Pertinently, goal-scoring stalwarts Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be 30 and 32 respectively when next season starts.
Aubameyang has been a prime Premier League goal-scorer in his time at Arsenal, with 84 goals and 16 assists in 141 games in all competitions. Having shot them to a successful FA Cup campaign last year, his goals have dried up this season. His goals per 90 minutes dropped from 0.74 in his first two and half seasons at Arsenal to just 0.4 this campaign, which is disappointing, considering the contract extension he was given in September.
Lacazette, on the other hand, has been a wonderful servant since scoring 94 seconds into his debut against Leicester.
The Frenchman has at times suffered for Aubameyang’s prolific form by sitting on the bench or coming off early to allow his captain to move central.
Presently in his fourth season with the Gunners, Lacazette has been a quality performer with 61 goals and 28 assists from 162 outings. His exquisite hold up play, work rate and a lethal touch in and around the box has characterized his time in North London.
Lacazette has particularly helped in Arsenal’s improved form since Boxing day, scoring eight times and assisting twice in the league.
For all of the quality and firepower that the attacking duo boasts, it has looked evident of late that they can’t function properly in the same XI. Aubameyang playing on the left flank has not worked out well and there have been calls for Gabriel Martinelli to replace the Arsenal captain in the starting lineup.
Speaking back in 2019, interim manager at the time in Frederick Ljungberg did speak about how playing Aubameyang and Lacazette together upsets the play for Arsenal.
“You need to have balance in your team” Ljungberg said in 2019.
“With Lacazette and Auba, we tried in my first two games, but we looked really vulnerable defensively. They are both great players that’s why I wanted them on the pitch, but we were vulnerable defensively.
“We’ve taken the route against West Ham where we’ve played one of them to have more defensive organisation and we played well and won that game very clearly.”
If both players can’t seem to play together, it then begs the question: Who then should leave the Gunners?
The future of the star forwards has split opinions across the Arsenal fanbase.
While Lacazette’s contract expires next year, Aubameyang is only months into his three-year extension and has displayed unhappiness in recent weeks.
Although, his lack of satisfaction is reportedly due to being deployed out wide while Arsenal have struggled to create chances. The Gabonese was recently dropped for disciplinary reasons in the north London derby, a game the Gunners went on to win without him. He has been poor since returning to the lineup.
The negative body language from the club’s talisman could be detrimental to the squad and it is perhaps wise to sell him on before his market value drops to avoid another Mesut Özil situation.
Should Arteta keep faith in the Gabon captain ahead of Lacazette, it would mean a central striking role for him while highly-rated youngster Gabriel Martinelli enjoys more playing time on the left wing.
It is becoming more evident that the Gunners need only one of both stars going forward and either man has to leave. Arteta must make a decision so as to invest the funds in rebuilding the squad. Much recently, the Gunners boss did say the club would decide on Lacazette’s future at the end of the season. It remains to be seen what becomes of that.
Given their various contract situations and goal records, Arsenal would perhaps be better off sticking with Aubameyang to build their attack around him while they cash in on Lacazette.
The ‘younger’ forward would command more suitors and a higher transfer fee as he goes into the final year of his contract. As it stands, three clubs have already shown interest in the Frenchman, including Atletico Madrid who he ought to have joined in 2018.
As per Odds Changer, Juventus are the favourites to sign Lacazette this summer at 4/1.
The ex-Lyon star is no doubt a brilliant player, but the Gunners must be swift to action and have shown their hands by tying Aubameyang to a big-money deal.
Although not regarded as part of the ‘deadwood’ that must be cleared out this summer, Lacazette has a vital role to play for Arsenal in the coming transfer window as they look to the future.
Agree with Kolade? Disagree? We’ll be happy to get your opinion in the comments.