Tactical expert Michael Cox has explained why Olivier Giroud starts over Alexandre Lacazette for the French national team.

One of the things that perplexed fans about the signing of Alexandre Lacazette was that, despite his impressive goal record, he wasn’t the first choice for France. Instead, that honour went to Olivier Giroud, the player Lacazette would be replacing at Arsenal.

Some have used this fact to knock Lacazette and his quality. However, Michael Cox has explained that it’s not about the quality of the two players, but the difference between club and international football.

In his column for ESPN, Cox explained Giroud’s impact: “Giroud is regarded as an outstanding super sub – he netted the winner against Leicester having come off the bench – but when he starts matches, Arsenal often fail to penetrate.

“He is excellent at getting on the end of crosses and very good at playing with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty box. Working the channels, though, isn’t a speciality.

“Indeed, it’s rare to see a modern-day centre-forward look so pained when chasing balls poked between defenders. But Ozil needs a centre-forward making runs to reach his through balls, while Giroud needs a No. 10 making runs beyond him to get on the end of flick-ons and knock-downs.

Cox then added how Lacazette was different to the 30-year-old and how it better suits Arsenal. “And this is where Lacazette comes in, to make those darting runs, those sudden movements. His link play is good and he’s developed the physicality to be a useful back-to-goal player at times, but he’s a more typical Arsenal centre-forward than Giroud.”

Fans felt that Arsenal needed a pacey striker for a number of years now, as there is a notable difference in the Gunners’ play during the rare occasions they have one up front. There are hopes that Ozil and Lacazette will establish a good partnership.

At international level, however, the demands are different. “For France, the situation is different,” Cox revealed. “Their outstanding attacker is Antoine Griezmann, who is fielded as a second striker behind Giroud and thrives on his partner’s ability to hold up the ball, to act as a decoy and to bring defenders up the pitch so he can sprint in behind.

“Moreover, France almost always face opponents that don’t have the confidence to push up the pitch and engage with them in midfield, instead retreating to the safety of their own penalty box. The traditional target man makes more sense, so Giroud gets the nod.”

It’s clear, then. It’s never been a simple case of swapping one striker for another and there are a lot of factors that go into Didier Deschamp’s decision to pick Giroud over Lacazette.