The 2019/20 season has been one of the most difficult campaigns in recent memory for Arsenal. The club has had three managers and will finish outside the top 6 for the first time in 25 years.
Arsenal are due to play Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1st and with both silverware and a place in Europe up for grabs, this season full of heartache could still end on a positive note.
One player at Arsenal who has had a particularly difficult year is Alexander Lacazette. He has scored 12 goals in all competitions this season and that is his worst tally in his three years at the club. He scored 19 goals last year and 17 the year before that. He can, ofcourse, improve on that with the club’s two remaining games of the season.
For most Arsenal fans, this was the year Lacazette was finally supposed to cross the 20 goal mark in the Premier League alone. The reality has turned out to be very different from the dream. The former Lyon striker suffered an injury in preseason and while it didn’t keep him out for long, he did not look himself for much of the early part of the season.
This was followed by a barren spell for the player that lasted for 10 games in the Premier League. Just before the suspension of football due to the coronavirus, Lacazette was beginning to show signs of his true self. He scored two goals in two appearances right before football was brought to a halt.
He has found that his place in the team is not guaranteed. Arteta has liked what he has seen from Eddie Nketiah and regularly alternates between the two. This could not have been easy for Lacazette but it has certainly generated a reaction from the player. He has scored crucial goals against Wolves, Liverpool and Tottenham in the last two weeks.
There has been much speculation about Lacazette’s future at Arsenal and only time will tell if he will continue to ply his trade at the Emirates.
The French striker gave his views on the challenges faced and the lessons learnt from this season to Get French Football News.
On if this was the hardest season he has had at Arsenal so far:
“At Arsenal, yes. The injury hung around longer than I thought (to his ankle) and it affected me. Afterwards, I had this period without scoring, so certainly it wasn’t easy for me, but I still learned a lot this season, because mentally it was not easy. The difficulties this season are going to serve me well in the future.”
On if doubts crept in due to to the fact that he was no longer a guaranteed starter:
“Certainly, it is not nice to be on the bench. At the same time, in my life I have had moments that were a lot more complicated and I did not doubt myself. It wasn’t really doubt, it was more unhappiness, like every player who is on the bench and wants to play.”
On any rivalry between Eddie Nketiah and himself for a place in the team:
“Between me and him, things are very good, there are no problems. We support each other. We know that everyone wants to play and it is the coach who makes the decisions, but between me and him (Nketiah) there are no problems.”
On how Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are different from Unai Emery’s Arsenal:
“It is a completely different way to manage a squad, a team, a different tactical vision as well, it is hard to cite all the changes, there are so many… What the coach asks of me is different. They have completely different visions, the pair of them.”
On his relationship with Arteta and if he speaks to him in French:
“He alternates, he can talk to me in French or sometimes in English. Both.”
On his relationship with Aubameyang and Pepe:
“Very, very good. We laugh a lot, we also work a lot in front of goal together. At the beginning Nico did not speak very good English (so all speaking French helps), so we always had to be fairly close by in order to do the translations.”
On if Aubameyang is the best player he has played with at club level:
“I have already been asked this question, I don’t know who it is, but he is definitely up there for sure… If you throw in the national team, then (Karim) Benzema is the best player that I have ever trained with.”
On the young players in the Arsenal squad:
“They are very good youngsters, humble and working everyday. I think they are the future of the club because we know that these days clubs need their youngsters. They are working, improving – Saka and Martinelli have had very good first seasons. And Joe Willock and Reiss (Nelson) help us with the small playing time that they have, which makes it not always that easy for them.”
On if he likes to lend his experience to the younger players:
“Yes, I like to speak with the young guys. Even at Lyon, I really always got on well with them. If it is a youngster or someone more experienced, I will always tell them what I think can help them in a match, they will also talk to me. That is the relationship of trust that we have in the team, to try to help each other.”
On the major differences between the Lacazette at Arsenal and the Lacazette at Lyon:
“Well already he scores less goals than he did at Lyon! But, he has improved on the mental and physical aspects of the game, in working as a team as well maybe. It is another role that I am being asked to fulfil at Arsenal than what was asked of me at Lyon.”
On why Arsenal missed out on the top four this season:
“We lacked rigour at key moments in the season. We lacked on confidence as a team, because each time we were lacking, whether it was a player at the back or a player up top, who affected the team to the slightest extent.”