Tag Archives: alexandre

Community Shield Preview

Published on The Arsenal Review

The season finally gets underway with this fixture. The Community Shield has been the curtain-raiser for many years, and this season starts with a London derby with plenty of expected fireworks to look forward to.

Last season saw the Gunners edge out their West London opponents in terms of amount of victories – one apiece in League wins, with Arsenal grabbing the decider with their victory in the FA Cup Final – but Antonio Conte winning the title in his first season means the Blues will start this fixture as favourites.

Last season means precious little however. Both sides will be fit and raring to go after both clubs have enjoyed extensive series of matches home and abroad, so there should be no lack of rhythm or final ball. 

This event is meant to be a friendly, but it will be anything but as both sides will be eager to score psychological points over the other. Both outfits will be expected to be near the top come the end of the season, and a winning start over a rival is something that may be a big boost – and a huge dent for the other.

Both sides have already met in pre-season, with Chelsea running out comfortable 3-0 winners in Asia. It may have smarted, but this game carries far more weight.

Arsene Wenger has said in his Press Conference that his squad is nearly completely injury free, so the Gunners boss has some difficult calls to make. The only omissions from the squad will be Santi Cazorla and Gabriel, as well as Francis Coquelin. Will Wenger opt for the 3-5-2? Or will he fall back on his old faithful – the 4-2-3-1?

Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey were carrying knocks but are expected to make it, but what of Alexis? The Chilean has just returned to training, will he come straight back into the team? In truth, there is an embarrassment of riches in attack for Wenger, with Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Alexandre Lacazette all vying for the striker spot.

If Wenger does go for three at the back, will Shkodran Mustafi miss out? The German has missed the majority of training, but is technically fit and available for selection. If Mustafi does miss out, will it be Rob Holding, Mohamed Elneny or Per Mertesacker that will partner Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal?

So many questions, but Antonio Conte has just as many quandaries. With Alvaro Morata, Kevin Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko added to an already bulging roster, what will Chelsea’s eleven look like? Will the success of last season dictate Conte’s selection? Or will Morata and co get a baptism of fire? He will have to make do without Eden Hazard and Pedro through injury.

Whoever makes the team at Wembley, they will surely know that this is no ordinary ‘friendly.’ Both sets of fans will want this trophy badly, as will the Managers, although they will be loath to declare their wanting. This match matters though, make no mistake.

Chelsea are favourites for this game, but they were overwhelming favourites in May – and look how that turned out.

Potential Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal.

Arsenal 1-2 Sevilla – Emirates Cup Review

Published on The Arsenal Review

Arsenal fell to a disappointing loss in their second and final game of the Emirates Cup, but still won the pre-season competition.

Sevilla were game opponents, but Arsene Wenger’s men could only blame themselves after failing to truly stretch the Spanish side.

Wenger opted for a much stronger side than the eleven that smacked five past Benfica the previous day. Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hector Bellerin, Mesut Özil and Alexander Lacazette all came into the side, and hopes were high that another goal-rich display was in the offing.

The moves on the pitch did not match the illustrious names in the team though. Our midfield – with young Jo Willock – was often easily bypassed, and our attacks too often were left wanting a decisive ball.

All of these criticisms can be amended with more match practice, and a percentage of our lackadaisical play can be attributed to the fact that it was a friendly game – so no real cause for alarm.

Still, it’s never nice seeing your side play at half capacity of what they’re capable of, and that was the theme of the match. The first half especially was a timid affair, but if any team had the better of the chances it was Sevilla. Cech was tested a couple of times, but nothing too strenuous – which was in line with the whole game.

Arsenal did eke out a few chances, with Hector Bellerin guilty of a glaring miss on the volley at the back post, but the general feel was that we never got out of second gear, and neither did our opponents. Bellerin was soon to come off though, with Cohen Bramall replacing him.

You could tell it was a pre-season warm-up game, and anyone who witnessed the game can say with some certainty that next week’s Community Shield game versus Chelsea will definitely see much more effort.

The first half petered out, but the second half soon saw a goal – unfortunately it went to Sevilla.

Ben Yedder was a player that was linked to us heavily last year, and it was the former Ligue Un player that made the difference with a great pass to Joaquin Correa, who put it past Cech.

The 60th minute saw the usual tradition of substitutions, but this time we only saw one, with Granit Xhaka coming on for the willing but out of his depth Jo Willock. The youngster has a tidy touch but was overrun in this game. His time will come though.

Only two minutes later, we had an equaliser, and it came from our new boy, Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman made the most of his first home start, as a cross from The Ox left the Sevilla defence all at sea, and Lacazette finished from close range.

A scoring team is always most at risk from conceding soon after, and this was the case again. Seven minutes after Lacazette’s goal, Steven N’Zonzi – he of Blackburn and Stoke at one time – picked the ball up outside the box and finished beautifully over Cech.

There was enough time to find another equaliser, and Arsene Wenger ordered reinforcements to find it, with Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi on for Lacazette and Elneny. The fresh legs did nothing to increase our goal threat though, and there was very little urgency.

The game finished at 2-1 to Sevilla, but Arsenal still won the Emirates Cup thanks to more goals scored than the La Liga side. It means very little, and the first acid test will be against Chelsea for the Community Shield.

All in all, the Emirates Cup provided ample game time for our youngsters and another step towards match sharpness for our first teamers. A worthwhile exercise, as this season demands improvement on the last.

Welcome to Arsenal – Alexandre Lacazette! 

It is finally official – Alexandre Lacazette is an Arsenal player.

The French striker has arrived from Lyon for a fee believed to be around £44m, with add-ons expected to take the amount closer to £52m. This of course tops the previous record – the £42m spent on Mesut Ozil in 2014 – but is it money well spent?

In short – yes. Very much so.

Consider this. 

Spanish international Alvaro Morata is in the market this summer and any move looks to be in the region of £70m. Morata has time on his side of course but he scored less than half the goals that Lacazette scored last season.

There are more reasons to reinforce belief in our new star striker.

Lacazette was rated in the Top10 for shot conversion rate in the Top5 Leagues last season, he has scored 20goals or more in the last 3 seasons and Lacazette was also wanted by Atletico Madrid – and they have one of the most amazing track records for strikers. 

The bearded Gaul is the real deal, and his all-round play is ready-made for the precision passing that Mesut Ozil provides. This hinges on the proviso that the German playmaker decides to stay at The Emirates, but it is certainly a tantalising prospect. 

There are naysayers though. They point to his failure to establish himself upon Didier Deschamps Les Bleus plans and the apparent weakness of Ligue Un competition. This can be disbanded pretty quickly though. 

Didier Deschamps once preferred Mahmadou Sakho over Laurent Koscielny so his judgment isn’t exactly indubitable. Also, recent seasons have shown French club sides have performed better than Premier League teams in the Champions League, so the gap in quality that used to be between the French and English domestic competition has shrunk considerably.

Lacazette scores in Europe, he makes intelligent runs and is ice-cold in the six yard box. He is adaptable and he is the finisher we have needed to give us a reliable source of goals. Every title winning team has one, and we can proudly say we have one of the best.

It is also a statement of intent. It shows we are ready to mix it with the big boys in order to strengthen. It will send a message to our rivals, and more importantly, to some of our stars who may be looking to other shores. They will be perhaps swayed by this purchase and who knows? It could be the push Alexis and Mesut needs to sign on the dotted line.

This is by no means finished business as far as our need to strengthen, but it is a huge move and it is early. Alexandre Lacazette is elite and has a pedigree hewn from four seasons at the top – and he has done the business in each of them. He is still only 26 and has yet to reach his peak. Under the tutelage of Wenger, Lacazette could even sway Deschamps, although there are an embarrassment of riches for France in attack.

Lacazette has signed a contract for five years, and if injury is avoided, we can look forward to our goal tally being bolstered by a large degree. 

We as Gooners should enjoy this moment. Our club are aiming high. 

Lacazette – What Is The Truth?

In recent days, the usual broth of transfer noise has seen certain ingredients dominate the usual recipe of lies, desperate agents and wannabee’s who would sell their closest relative’s for 1000 retweets. 

In amongst the detritus which should come with a health warning, certain names have risen to the top of the  bubbling mixture and it not only changes the whole mixture, but it also cranks the gas up a few notches. The more a name is mentioned, the more froth flies from fanbases.

In relation to this, step forward Alexandre Lacazette. 

The Lyon striker has probably had more lines written surrounding his near future than any other player – and this includes the stories about Cristiano Ronaldo announcing his ‘intention’ to depart Real Madrid. 

Yes, the French 26yr old striker has been this week’s back pages darling, and the hullabaloo surrounding him is embroiling Arsenal.

Lyon Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has done nothing to keep a lid on this foaming pot either. Aulas – dependant on who you believe – has spoken regularly regarding his prized asset, and is whipping up this madcap auction in a bid to ensure Lyon receive justifiable payment for the loss of Lacazette.

In the space of one week, we have had a large amount of soundbites from Aulas, but the candid nature of his comments raises alarms somewhat. When was the last time a Chairman was so open with his hand regarding a transfer?

The sources are varied, but these are reportedly direct comments from Aulas, so if these were fabricated, then these publications would be in severe hot water if they had indeed materialised these titbits. 

What could well be the case is that there may well be something lost in translation. It wouldn’t be the first time a transfer link ended in a puff of smoke.

That being said though, there is definitely interest from Arsenal it seems. With daily column inches dedicated to the chase for Lacazette, there cannot be this much bluster without there being tangible truth somewhere.

What we cannot discern, is what stage our club is at with the player. 

Have we agreed terms? Has Lacazette even agreed to come to The Emirates? After all, according to his Chairman, Atletico Madrid have offered more money. The only stumbling block regarding this move is that The Spanish club are transfer embargoed until January. If they were not inhibited from spending, then Lacazette would surely now be in the colours of Atletico.

In amongst all of this smoke and mirrors, we have all had our say. With our club apparently chasing after French prodigy Kylian Mbappe as well, the gauge from social networks appear to favour a move for the younger Frenchman, and a lukewarm reception to our interest in Lacazette in some corners.

Is this fair though? Of course, if last season’s promise shown from Mbappe is the real deal, then he will be the next big thing in football. He will be a future Ballon D’or winner. It’s a hell of a gamble though. We have all seen our fair share of starlets burning bright before fizzling out.

Whereas Alexandre Lacazette can stand tall knowing he has shown enough to warrant a big move. 

Over 100 goals in just 203 appearances (over 30 of which were substitute appearances) which means a ratio of one goal in every two games. He has been in the Ligue Un Team of the Year three times in total. In 2016, he bagged 26 goals in a season – the most by a Frenchman in their native league since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991. 

Still not convinced? Well, according to Sky Sports News, Lacazette had the highest chance conversion rate in Europe’s top five league’s last season, with 38.9%. That beats Falcao at Monaco with 33.9% and Timo Werner of RB Leipzig with 34.4%. Also, there are only nine strikers who have scored more than Lacazette since 2012/13, and they are Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Ibrahimovic, Lewandowski, Cavani, Higuain, Aubameyang and Aguero. 

Lacazette is the real deal. He scores for fun in Ligue Un, in the big games against PSG and Monaco, in European ties. The striker is still only 26 and has not yet hit his peak. His finishing, his strength, his expert positioning, his sudden turn of pace  which gives him that crucial yard – all combine to give him the edge over defenders. 

Kylian Mbappe may still be possible, but all the while we are linked with Lacazette I’m not too concerned. 

Whether there is meat on the bone of this story is another thing, but keep your eyes on BBC Sport’s very own David Ornstein. If we are close to swooping in, then the Ornacle himself will most likely the man breaking the true story.

We are all seeking an improvement to the squad – and Alexandre Lacazette will most definitely do just that should he sign.