4 different strikers started Premier League games for Arsenal last season; Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez. In a season of mixed emotions last year, do the stats show who really was Arsenals best attacker, and how will this change with the arrival of Lacazette?
Lucas Perez unfortunately only started one game for Arsenal as the main striker, in a 2-1 win over Southampton, so he is exempt from any criticism.
In 2016/17, Alexis Sanchez started 19 games up front for Arsenal. In these games, the team scored 40 and conceded 21. This averages out at 2.1 goals scored per game, and 1.1 conceded. Bearing in mind that many of Alexis’s starts up top came in the early stages of the season when the team were flying high at the top of the league.
Giroud began to start games around New Years. Overall, he started 11 games, as the team averaged 1.9 goals per game, and conceded 1.2 per game. Danny Welbeck returned from injury in early 2017 and started 7 games as a striker. The team scored 1.9 goals per game with him as the main striker and conceded 1.3 per game.
So, the stats clearly show that when Arsenal lined up with the Chilean as the main striker, the team tended to perform significantly better. Not only did the team perform much better in front of goal, but also managed to concede slightly fewer.
Sanchez or Giroud?
It does begin to beg the question then, why did Wenger decide to change the system up and play any games at all without Sanchez as the starting striker? Sanchez was ever present last year, either from the bench or on the left-wing, so why couldn’t he keep his starting striker place?
Maybe it’s because Giroud was upset at being dropped to the bench and Wenger is a fan of Welbeck as the main striker, which is entirely warranted considering his excellent performance against Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Of course, there’s the idea that with an attacking demon like Sanchez playing behind another striker who can also score goals is better than just one goal scorer, but the stats clearly show that Sanchez is the best-choice striker for this Arsenal side.
No matter who is behind them, the way Sanchez stretches defences, like Welbeck, but also brings others into play, like Giroud, means that he is undoubtedly the best striker that Arsenal have at the club. And considering the current contract situation, things do not look great.
The New Blood
That is until Alexandre Lacazette comes in. A striker in a similar mould to Welbeck, he can stretch defences with his movement, but with obvious quality on the ball too.
Last season, Lacazette started 28 games for Lyon, scoring 28 times. This is a staggering return of goals, more than Arsenal have seen from an individual player since the Henry days.
So, it may be that the arrival of Lacazette could increase the number of goals Arsenal score. However, he also puts in around 1.1 tackles per game. More than Giroud last season, this could be the clincher that makes him a formidable Premier League striker.
A man who can run like Welbeck, score like Sanchez and link like Giroud, this could be the first piece of the puzzle. At this moment in time, Arsenal have many more problems than who is playing up front, but defence starts in attack, and if Arsenal can get the front sorted quickly, maybe the defence will start to fall into place too.