Mesut Ozil continues to look as though he has played his last game for Arsenal as he remains on the sidelines, having been left out of the Premier League and Europa League squads – but do Arsenal already boast his replacement?
Ozil, 31, is set to see his enormous contract expire next summer – and it looks as though he is going to remain at the club until then, but without playing again for Mikel Arteta’s side. A replacement is required for the 92-time Germany star.
Certainly, Arsenal miss his creativity in midfield. But on Thursday night, Mikel Arteta’s new role for Alexandre Lacazette might have just handed the Spanish manager with the ideal replacement for Ozil going forward.
Naturally a striker, £180,000-a-week (Spotrac) striker Lacazette starred – as he played in the 10 role behind Eddie Nketiah. Wearing the captain’s armband, he took the game by the scruff of the neck and starred, both scoring and creating chances.
Arsenal’s first goal came when Lacazette picked the ball up in between the midfield and defence – striking the ball home from all of 30 yards, a brilliant goal. He was also involved in the third goal, as Eddie Nketiah bundled the ball home.
A beautiful first-time pass played in Nicolas Pepe who crossed, eventually going in from Nketiah. It showed that Lacazette knew which positions to be in, understood the freedom of the 10 role – and both scored and showed vision, and creation.
So, do Arsenal already have themselves a replacement for Ozil? Certainly, the Gunners have an abundance of centre-forwards in a side that play with one striker. Gabriel Martinelli is back, rivalling Lacazette, Nketiah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Taking one player out of that list would help Arteta incorporate Lacazette and another striker as he did on Thursday. Yes, it was against Rapid Vienna, but his creation and power could see the Gunners use the Frenchman as a replacement for Ozil.