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Unleash Lacazette! Arsenal ace shows Emery he deserves starting berth

17:41 BST 25/08/2018
Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal
The France forward's half-time introduction changed the course of Saturday's 3-1 victory over West Ham at the Emirates

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enthused during pre-season that "there is a spark" between him and Alexandre Lacazette when they're on the field together, and it was on show during Saturday's timely 3-1 victory over West Ham, with the French forward coming off the bench to ignite Arsenal's campaign.

Lacazette was brought to Emirates Stadium for a then club-record fee of £52.5 million two summers ago.

Coming off the back of a season in which he had netted 28 league goals - more than Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez combined - his arrival in north London was accompanied by weighty expectations upon him to succeed immediately.

The highlight of his first year in England was undoubtedly the home victory over bitter rivals Tottenham, which saw the Frenchman stretch the opposition defenders to create space for Alexis Sanchez to exploit.

Indeed, the derby display underlined that not only is Lacazette a goal-getter, he’s also capable of providing intelligent runs which help his team-mates succeed in the final third.

His clever movement was in evident again in the game's decisive goal against West Ham, with the 27-year-old getting in behind the visitors' defence before seeing a cross-cum-shot deflect into the back of the net via Issa Diop to put Arsenal 2-1 up.

Unai Emery’s first win as Arsenal manager didn’t come with the glamour that he would have liked but the clinical nature of the Gunners in the second half was particularly impressive and the impact of his substitutes - Danny Welbeck netted late on - will have pleased him immensely. 

Obviously, Marko Arnautovic’s opener reminded Emery of the defensive issues which show no sign of going away anytime soon and West Ham’s best player, summer signing Felipe Anderson, caused Nacho Monreal problems down the left-hand side.

However, Arsenal's full-backs were a constant threat going forward and it was Monreal who netted Arsenal's opener, while Hector Bellerin created both the first and third goals.

Lacazette's introduction at the break was pivotal, though.

Arsene Wenger’s decision to bench the striker for key games last season was questioned throughout the campaign and Emery has preferred Aubameyang up front so far this term.

However, Lacazette created more chances than any of the front players after coming on and only strengthened the belief that he deserves a start, after sparking the Emery era into life.