He finished up as the match winner, but when the Arsenal team was released for the final Europa League group game against Qarabag on Thursday night many felt Alexandre Lacazette’s inclusion was unnecessary. They would have preferred that the Frenchman had been rested.
Arsenal are heading into a packed period of fixtures which will define their season. The Gunners have made progress under Unai Emery over the early part of the campaign, but they must consolidate that progress before the turn of the year or they will find themselves chasing their tail.
The Gunners will travel to the south coast to face Southampton this weekend before taking on Spurs in the quarter finals of the League Cup the following week. Then between December 22 and New Year’s Day Emery’s side will play four Premier League fixtures. This will be a testing stretch for everyone, including Arsenal.
Lacazette, many believe, should have been rested against Qarabag to keep him fresh for this upcoming run of games. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the Premier League top scorer this season, but he frequently plays out wide. It’s Lacazette who acts as the focal point of the Arsenal attack. He is, in the conventional sense of the term, their frontman.
Behind him, there is nobody who could perform the role. Of course, Aubameyang could play through the middle, as he has done many times before, but that would leave the Gunners short of threat on the left side. By pulling one side of the duvet, the feet would be left dangling uncovered on the other side.
Danny Welbeck’s injury, which could rule him out for the rest of the season, has left Arsenal light in the attacking positions and this is why they need to sign a striker when the January transfer window opens in a few weeks’ time. They need depth and Arsenal are lacking that up front.
Callum Wilson would fit the bill. The Bournemouth striker is in the form of his life at the moment, leading the Cherries to eighth place in the Premier League table. Injury free, Wilson is a bottom half Robert Lewandowski and would certainly be capable of leading the line for Arsenal as a deputy for Lacazette. He might even push the Frenchman to reach even higher heights.
The other option might be to spend big on Ousmane Dembele, who continues to be linked with a departure from Barcelona. That would free up Aubameyang to be used as a frontman in Lacazette’s absence, with Dembele used on the right when all three are fit and available.
Arsenal have done well in the transfer window under the new regime, signing shrewdly and adding to their squad smartly in a way that has allowed Emery to mould his team in the manner he wants. They must continue to do that in the coming transfer windows, starting with January.
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