Morning folks and welcome to Saturday. Hope you’re planning on having a good one. We don’t have Arsenal to cock it up for us after all, right?
I’ve woken up this morning feeling a little less pissed off than I was on Thursday night, then Friday, but that poor home draw is still frustrating me, so when I listened to Mikel’s press conference this morning and heard some of the usual dross for questions being trotted out, it hardly helped. For example being asked about a reaction from the players and saying he got it on Thursday night kind of triggered me at first, but then I think back to the game itself. We had the chances – Saka through on goal, Laca through on goal, Willian free kick off the post, etc – we just didn’t convert those attempts that the xG crowd would have been creaming themselves over given the positions on the pitch. So whilst I still think the reaction of the players wasn’t good enough – let’s not forget the first half seemingly played at walking pace by those Arsenal players – we did do more than enough to win the game.
But that’s the problem with this Arsenal team at the moment, isn’t it? Doing enough to win a game, not taking chances, then being idiots at the back, which gives the opposition a lifeline. Then I start to think about the enigma that is this Arsenal team. We have been poor for large chunk s of the seaosn, but from a goals conceded point of view we haven’t been as poor as I seem to feel like we have in my mind. We went through a period of games where we didn’t even concede a goal. Yet here we find ourselves having not kept a clean sheet in 15 matches! It’s both bizarre, frustrating, entirely predictable and yet so unpredictable.
I guess it is the embodiment of mid-table mediocrity though. From sublime to ridiculous game-by-game and sometimes, like the West Ham game, half-by-half.
A lot of the other questions he was asked in yesterday’s video conference call don’t really even warrant being discussed today though. Being asked about the importance of confidence in the players and what he can do to change that, or how Nicolas Pepe has been good coming off the bench, almost feel like “yep/nope” answers he could give. He did talk about converting chances and said that we aren’t going to get 15 in every game, more like four or five, so with that in mind I really hope he takes a good look at those that played up top on Thursday and realizes the folly of his decision making. I said it last night on the Same Old Arsenal podcast; I am not a fan of Alexandre Lacazette and lately I’ve been thinking about whether we’d have been better not picking him up for £52million, instead signing Auba either that summer or in the following January window, then we might have been much better off in terms of attacking balance.
In the discussion we had we talked about whether Lacazette was actually in fact an upgrade on Giroud and whilst I had certainly thought so when we signed and when in his first season he bagged 18 goals for us I thought that yes, he probably was. But the decline in his overall performances since that first season have been there for us all to see and when I then compared the two strikers’ goal and assist ratio’s, it did shock me actually. Did you know that Olivier Giroud has a better goals scored average than Lacazette? Giroud played 253 games for The Arsenal and got himself 105 goals. That’s an average of 0.42 goals per game. Lacazette? 61 goals in 163 games. That’s 0.37 goals per game. So in buying what we thought was a more natural finisher, but perhaps somebody who was better in the box and who would bag more goals as a better striker than Giroud who was slower and more of a target man, what we actually have is a guy who looks like he runs through treacle at the moment, who rarely seems fit enough to start 90 minutes, and who has under-performed his fellow Frenchman in the key metric where we thought he would better than him in.
That has really surprised me if I’m honest. We all knew Ollie G was slow, he missed chances, we needed an upgrade. But that upgrade – and I’m obviously talking with my Captain Hindsight glass one here – has simply not happened. Even if you wonder whether Giroud has stat-padded with penalties more than Lacazette, it turns out that they both have scored the same number of penalties as each other: seven.
What a bout assists though, because Lacazette is supposedly a guy who brings others in to play, right? Well, only just, because Lacazette has 28 in 163 games (0.17 assists per game) and Giroud had 41 in 253 (0.16 assists per game). If you multiply it out with Lacazette’s numbers to the number of games Giroud played for us, you get 43 assists in 253 games as a ratio.
That’s it. This striker we paid £52million for, who was supposed to be a better and elite upgrade, in fact has statistically provided us with an average ratio of just two assists more if you do the maths.
That simply isn’t good enough for the wages, the transfer fee, his time at the club. Olivier Giroud was bought for £12million, sold for £18million, was on less wages, produced a better goal ratio, was only just behind on his assist ratio, plus he provided a better target man than Lacazette. He was also – if you remember – half decent on defending corners.
The signing of Lacazette has, in my opinion, been a massive mistake and I think it shows another example of just how poor our recruitment has been in the last five years. That is a massive problem at our football club and this summer essentially needs to be flawless both incoming and outgoing if we are going to get anywhere near the objectives that Arsenal Football Club should have.
Some thoughts for you to ponder on a Saturday. Have a good one.