By the time Arsenal returns to action after the mid-season break, it would have been a full calendar year since Alexandre Lacazette last
scored away from home in the Premier League.
The France striker has now gone 358 days since finding the net during the 2-1 win at
Huddersfield Town on February 9, 2019, and it’s becoming an increasingly big problem for Mikel Arteta.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back available again after his ban, all the talk ahead of Arsenal’s game at Burnley on Sunday centered around who would make way for the Gabon international. Would it be Lacazette or would it be Gabriel Martinelli, who had scored twice during the three games Aubameyang had been sidelined?
In the end it was neither, with Nicolas Pepe the man left out. Arteta once again kept faith with Lacazette as his central striker and once again, that faith wasn’t repaid.
From the moment he headed well wide having been picked out by Aubameyang’s cross inside five minutes, Lacazette just never looked like scoring as the visitors toiled to a 0-0 draw – their 13th stalemate of the season.
And for Arteta, it’s a problem that he is going to have to find a solution to if Arsenal is going to kick on during the final months of the campaign.
It’s not just that Lacazette is not scoring, it’s that his continued presence in the starting XI means that Aubameyang is having to operate from out wide, rather than through the central areas.
And while Aubameyang also wasted a great chance in the first half at Turf Moor, it’s tough to criticize a man who has scored 14 times this season.
In fact, of Arsenal’s 14 away goals in the league this season, Aubameyang has nine. No-one else has scored more than two.
So keeping him out wide while Lacazette is struggling so much feels like it is increasingly hurting Arsenal.
This draw was their 13th in the league this season. That’s two more than anyone else in the top flight. They have won just six, the same as West Ham, who sit in the relegation zone.
It’s a lack of goals that is the major problem. We’re now into February and the Gunners still have a minus goal difference, even though they have only been beaten six times.
Finding a solution to that is going to be vital if Arteta wants to get anything out of these final few months of the season.
It must be noted that Lacazette is far from the only issue and it’s hardly like he is being given a constant supply line by those behind him. Mesut Ozil, for example, has now gone two years without a Premier League assist away from home and was replaced by Joe Willock at Turf Moor after another disappointing display.
But there’s no doubt Lacazette has to find some form quickly if he wants to justify his continued place in the side.
Since arriving in December, Arteta has improved Arsenal enormously at the back. His side plays with a structure now that is making them hard to beat.
Although Burnley had a couple of chances, one of which saw Jay Rodriguez hit the bar from close range, the visitors largely kept their hosts at arm’s length and were relatively untroubled, other than by set-pieces.
But now Arteta has to turn his attention to finding a solution for the lack of goals and getting more out of Lacazette has to be his primary action.
Sport Gist compiled by Raphael Nwabueze +2348189279268