Alexandre Lacazette is starring as Arsenal’s No. 9 and “doing the shirt proud”, says Alan Smith, with the French striker one of few who seem to “genuinely care” about the club.
The 27-year-old forward is taking in a second season at Emirates Stadium, having been snapped up from Lyon in a £46.5 million ($61m) deal over the summer of 2017.
Arsene Wenger was the man to secure his signature, with the iconic coach having been a long-standing admirer of a striker who had been prolific in his homeland.
Lacazette took in a mixed debut campaign which delivered 17 goals but questions of his suitability to life in the Premier League.
He has offered the perfect response to those critics, with a productive partnership having been struck up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2018-19 and another 11 efforts recorded.
There can certainly be no questioning his attitude and commitment to the Arsenal cause, with former Gunners striker Smith telling the Evening Standard: “Arsenal fans absolutely love a prolific centre-forward, especially when he has a close attachment to the club.
"And I think that’s true just now of Alexandre Lacazette, a character who seems to genuinely care for the fortunes of his employer.
“Yes, plenty passionately kiss the badge before angling for a move. Plenty go through the motions to garner support. But Lacazette does most of his talking with clever feet forcefully backed up by fierce determination.
“You could see that in the way he surged infield against Cardiff to rifle home the goal that effectively sealed the result. The Frenchman wouldn’t be denied. This was all about pace, power and a hammer blow of a shot.
“His superb take against Chelsea involved a lot more skill in shifting the ball swiftly in a tight space. But again, the goalkeeper was beaten by a sweet piledriver. Not many hit the ball as hard as Lacazette.
“If nothing else, such outstanding form gives Arsenal half a chance against Manchester City on Sunday.”
Arsenal’s next outing is set to take them to the Etihad Stadium to take on the reigning Premier League champions.
Smith is not giving an inconsistent Gunners side much of a chance, despite seeing Unai Emery’s team move back into the top four, but is hoping to see Lacazette shine once more in a jersey he once filled himself in north London.
The ex-England international added: “As was shown against Newcastle, the champions can be vulnerable when asked to defend. At St James’ Park the other night, a whiff of complacency also hung in the air.
“In truth, though, I can’t see that continuing.
“Pep Guardiola will be getting stuck into his players over the next couple of days to try and prevent any kind of repeat. And if City play like they can on the front foot, their defensive weaknesses are unlikely to be exposed.
“That said, Lacazette doesn’t need many invitations just now. Arsenal’s latest No. 9 is doing the shirt proud.”