July 29, 2021

Lacazette’s poor game underlines Arsenal’s issues during Arteta’s rebuild

Only one of Arsenal and Leicester City started with a centre-forward on the pitch, but it says a lot about Alexandre Lacazette’s performance that you couldn’t really tell the difference.

Mikel Arteta has made considerable progress in evolving Arsenal since taking charge last December, but Sunday’s 1-0 defeat was a slip back into the past as they failed to make their early dominance pay, fizzled out as an attacking force and were undone by a classic counter-attack goal.

“I’m really disappointed, we had it in our hands in the first half,” said Arteta to Sky Sports after the match. “They caught us with space at the back and in that moment we lost the game.

“It is difficult to create spaces with 10 men behind the ball, but we should have finished the game better. When it comes to those moments, you can’t give away chances at the back.

The villain of the piece from the Gunners’ perspective was an all-too-familiar foe: Jamie Vardy came off the bench with 30 minutes remaining, had Leicester’s first shot on target all night and scored his 11th Premier League goal against Arsenal to hand the visitors a precious win. Only Wayne Rooney (12) has breached the Gunners more times in League history, and this was an archetypal example of many that have gone before: Leicester moved the ball quickly in midfield, Youri Tielemans spotted substitute Cengiz Under with a raking forward pass and the Turkey international winger teased a ball in from the right wing for Vardy to stoop and head home.

There were, of course, no fans in Emirates Stadium to voice their disapproval, but one small crumb of comfort from their absence will come in the fact they have seen this all before. Vardy could hardly miss, such was the quality of Under’s cross, but his clinical touch only heightened the contrast with what happened at the other end for the hosts all night long.

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