HOWEVER, a missed penalty could not derail a brilliant centre-back performance by Arsenal’s reserve captain Alexandre Lacazette.
With star Gabonese now official take the captain’s armband and beyond the first-team picture, maybe for good, Lacazette has a chance to shine as a leader.
And he did it against West Ham tonight, setting the tone even as his side got off to a sleepy start.
Much of the first half of tonight’s clash could leave fans nodding off, with both sides neutralizing each other.
Just as you’d wonder if the importance of this match for both top contenders could spoil the chances, Lacazette has shown the influence of a captain by tweaking procedures. .
The Frenchman worked tirelessly alone, completely dominating Issa Diop and Craig Dawson with clever use of his body and good runs.
His energy seems to be channeled to his teammates, as the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli flare up again.
While Aubameyang may have been famous off the pitch, it can rarely be said that he has ever had such a stimulating effect on it, regardless of his scoring streaks in previous years.
Lacazette has Arsenal The perfect start at 45 seconds was decidedly more lively, dropping devastatingly deep before turning and delivering a perfect pass to send Martinelli across goal.
The Brazilian did the rest, getting past Lukasz Fabianski to finally break the stubborn Hammers’ block.
Lacazette was then fouled by Vladimir Coufal in the box, the Czech defender received a second yellow card and ordered to move.
Arsenal’s No9 then saw his penalty kick blocked by former Gunner Fabianski, but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm.
By the time he was substituted in the 89th minute, he had received a standing ovation from the Emirates audience, who were hoping to get used to such a hard-working performance from their centre-back.
LEARNED FROM PAST MISTAKES?
In a slick feature on tonight’s game day program, Lacazette outlined the case of becoming the next captain of the Gunners full-time – even showing Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris as one of his main influences.
But with his contract coming to an end, Arsenal must decide if they want to extend him at the age of 30.
After performances like this, the Gunners will blush if they let him go without regrets.
But the same could happen to Aubameyang in 2020, and even Mesut Ozil two years before that.
Regardless of whether he is retained or not, Lacazette will at least provide a great gap until the end of the season, when Arsenal want to finish in Champions League place for the first time since 2016.
And if he continues to perform like this, he will have no shortage of offers on January 1st…
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/17052104/arsenal-verdict-lacazette-axed-aubameyang/ Reserve captain Lacazette sets the tone with the pace of work and the Gunners will thrive without a glitched Aubameyang