Alexandre Lacazette is having a rough time at the moment with Arsenal, particularly after his wasted chances in the North London derby. Is it poor form or the curse of the number nine shirt?
Back in the summer, Arsenal gave Lacazette the number nine, after making him the club’s new record signing.
The number doesn’t have a great history on the red side of North London, particularly in recent years.
Players like Davor Suker seemed to start the trend of players enduring disappointing spells in the shirt. He spent one year at Arsenal and scored eight times before leaving for West Ham. Francis Jeffers joined next, and did even worse, only managing four goals in three years.
Jose Antonio Reyes did a bit better, with 19 goals in 69 appearances, as well as two trophies. Still, he never really lived up to the hype in North London. Julio Baptista took over and scored three goals in another short spell.
Eduardo da Silva looked like he’d bucked the trend initially, before a terrible leg break ended those hopes. Once he was gone, Park Chu Young became the new number nine, and made just one league appearance before leaving.
Lukas Podolski and Lucas Perez didn’t perform quite as poorly as their predecessors. Podolski managed 31 goals and 17 assists in 82 appearances overall, and Lucas got eight goals and six assists in 22 last year.
Both struggled to get as many appearances as they would’ve liked, and didn’t always play up front, but they got decent returns nonetheless.
When Lacazette signed, Arsenal fans hoped that the ‘curse’ had finally ended.
A few months later, the striker has nine goals from 29 appearances, and the club have already bought another centre-forward to take his place in the starting XI.
When the Frenchman did get a chance from the bench at the weekend, he squandered two chances for an equaliser. You’d normally expect a player of his quality to hit the target with at least one of them but his confidence has been shattered since arriving at the club by how he has been treated.
I’m not a big believer in curses, but perhaps the history of the number is starting to have a psychological effect on players.
Hopefully I’m wrong, and he can turn things round in the final months of the season.