Just like everyone else on the planet, Emmanuel Petit doesn’t have the foggiest notion why his former manager didn’t pick Alexandre Lacazette to start against Manchester City.
Despite scoring more goals than anyone else in the Arsenal squad so far this term, Wenger decided to bench Lacazette for the Gunners’ trip to the Etihad on Sunday.
Instead, he started Alexis Sanchez, who’s only scored once in the Premier League this season and has been generally disappointing, against the team he was pushing for a move to all summer.
“Another mistake was not starting with Alexandre Lacazette,” Petit wrote in his column for Paddy Power. “He’s a natural goalscorer, and Arsenal needed a physical presence in the penalty area. Sanchez’s workrate, vision and technique are good, but something was missing.”
He later added, “Against Everton, I saw a glimpse of the old Arsenal. They lined up that day in Goodison Park in a 4-2-3-1 – this is the system that suits them best. When Sanchez, Lacazette and Ozil played together, the movement and skill was a real pleasure to watch – which makes it even more of a mystery why Lacazette didn’t start on Sunday. If you want to compete against the best team in Europe, you have to play your best players.”
Although Wenger’s not said as much, maybe Alexis looked ‘up for it’ in training the day before and the boss reckoned he would put in an audition-like performance against Pep Guardiola’s side. However, if that was the method behind the madness, it didn’t work. The Chilean was terrible.
To almost add insult to injury, Lacazette came on in the 57th minute and brought the score from 2-0 to City to 2-1 within 10 minutes of setting foot on the pitch. However, Arsenal shrank back into their shells when the Blues were given an offside goal to make it 3-1. There was no coming back from that.
If the 26-year-old had started up front, it could have been different.