Lacazette: By the Numbers

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Arsenal signed Alexandre Lacazette from Olympique Lyon for a club record £52.7m. Lacazette is a 26 year old French center forward who scored 129 goals in 275 appearances for Lyon in the French first division.

Lacazette scored his first goal for Lyon against Sochaux on October 30th, 2010 – putting home the winner in the 69th minute of a 2-1 contest. Often deployed wide, Lacazette didn’t start scoring goals in earnest until 2013 when he pulled down a decent haul of 22 in 54 appearances. The next season, Lacazette was permanently given the forward role and rewarded Lyon with 31 goals in 40 appearances. Since then, his goal scoring record has been excellent: netting 91 goals in 129 appearances.

Lacazette has been handed Lyon’s penalty taking duties as well and has scored 23/28 penalties attempted (82%). This has become a point of criticism (because, you know… people) but if we remove his penalty goals, Lacazette had the best return of his career last season, averaging 0.67 goals per90.

This 0.67 goals per 90 is equal to Kun Aguero’s record while playing for Man City (Aguero averaged this over his career at City not just last season: yes, he’s a beast). In fact, each of Lacazette’s last three seasons he has bested the 0.50 goals per 90 (minus pens) which we expect to see with top strikers. The chart below compares his last three seasons with the careers of Aguero, Kane, Giroud, Alexis, and £75m man Romelu Lukaku.
Perhaps the most surprising stat in Lacazette’s career is his 49% shots on goal record. This is actually an incredible stat. Alexis only manages 38% of his shots on target and Aguero 41%. Note that I count shot on goal stats a bit different than others, mine is the simple total shots saved or scored/total shots. Others remove blocks before doing the same calculations.

It’s good that Lacazette gets half of his shots on target, because at Lyon he didn’t get many shots and averaged just 2.7 shots per 90 over his career. It was a bit disconcerting to see that Lacazette only took 72 non-penalty shots last season – 100 is seen as the minimum standard for forwards. Last season Aguero took 134 non-pen shots and Alexis 126.

Lacazette’s career up to now has been one of a player who has created and received limited opportunities. He has done exceptionally well with those shots, like I said above 50% on target is great, but the question is whether less than 100 shots is his ceiling and whether he will get more shots at Arsenal. Your gut reaction is probably “yeah, with Alexis and Ozil feeding him, he could double his shots!” but Lyon actually took more shots than Arsenal last season (15.5 v. 14.9 per game) but those shots were pretty evenly distributed between Lacazette (84), Fekir (71) and Tolisso (66). This is different from Arsenal where Alexis took 129 shots, which was twice as many as Theo Walcott’s 2nd most 62 shots, and three times Aaron Ramsey’s 42.

The questions I can’t answer here is what happens going forward. If Alexis sticks around Arsenal could end up creating more shots with Lacazette in the lineup – though Lacazette’s shots and goals numbers will probably shrink unless Wenger convinces Alexis to give up shooting. And if Alexis leaves, Arsenal will almost certainly redistribute his shots to the remaining players which could prove to be a huge boon for Lacazette. My estimate is that with Alexis in the lineup, if he hits the ground running, Lacazette will score around 14 non-penalty goals next season; without Alexis in the lineup Lacazette should score around 22 (League goals only, assuming injury free season, not counting penalties, estimating .18 strike rate).

The reason total number of shots is important is because a player can’t score if he doesn’t get the chances. Lacazette has scored 18, 19, and 19 non-penalty goals off 72, 92, and 87 shots in each of his last three seasons. That’s an average strike rate of 22%, which is very good. However, unless Arsenal are going to suddenly win a lot of penalties, and he’s going to be Arsenal’s main penalty taker, he will need a lot more shots than he did last year to be a 25 goal-a-year striker. He will need 114 shots at 22% and 133 shots at a more modest 18% strike rate. Even if he continues with his 22% strike rate he would need 30 more shots than his average over the last three season. That’s not impossible but would represent a 36% increase over his last three seasons.

Lacazette’s other stats are rather plain. In his time at Lyon he’s averaged 1.8 successful dribbles per90 at a 53% success rate. This is similar to Aguero’s 54%, but significantly lower in overall total numbers since Aguero manages 2.5 successful dribbles per90. And Lacazette dribbles about half as much as Alexis, who completes a whopping 3.6 dribbles per90 and does so at a 63% rate. Lacazette also passes at the same rate as Alexis (78%) but since he doesn’t see nearly as much of the ball as Alexis his turnovers and bad pass numbers are well below the Chilean. And finally, while Lacazette said on ArsenalTV that he likes to set up his teammates for goals, his career 1.5 key passes per90 is decent but doesn’t paint him as a set-up man.

Lacazette is a small but pacy player who moved from the wide forward position into the center forward position three years ago. Similar to Theo Walcott, he’s got an eye for goal, he’s an accurate shooter, and shows a decent finishing touch but he doesn’t demand much of the ball and as a result won’t turn the ball over as much as the often hounded Alexis, nor will he dribble or create as much as Alexis.

Lacazette has a great goal-scoring record for Lyon but that record has been supplemented with 23 penalties and he may struggle to reach the magical “20 goal season” threshold that many fans expect from a top forward at Arsenal. If Wenger wants to make him into a 20 goal a season man, Wenger’s task is to find a way to get him a huge increase in his total number of shots or create a crazy number of high percentage chances without taking them away from Alexis.

If Arsene can do that, Lacazette will be a huge addition to Arsenal’s attack.

@7amkickoff

Sources: WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.com

Qq

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35 Comments on "Lacazette: By the Numbers"

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Xzibit

Shoot?

eddymc2

“It’s good that Lacazette gets half of his shots on target, because at Lyon he didn’t get many shots and averaged just 2.7 shots per 90 over his career. It was a bit disconcerting to see that Lacazette only took 72 non-penalty shots last season – 100 is seen as the minimum standard for forwards.”

Re: this paragraph – there are quotes from his first Arsenal interview where he says he doesn’t shoot if he doesn’t genuinely believe he can score, no? Given the conversion rate numbers doing the rounds, once I read that quote I thought, “that makes sense”.

[I should mention that right after that Lacazette alludes to passing sometimes being a better option than shooting – are his assist figures so ‘meh’ that they don’t warrant a mention? Asking for a friend.]

thw14

Maybe it is time to move on Alexis and bring in a less striker-y attacker after all.

Itd be a very bold move, but unlike the suicidal instinct to swap RvP for Giroud, I think pairing Lemar or Mahrez with Lacazette and Ozil would be a risk worth taking.

It would emphasised passing fluid football but with less of the Alexis-as-saviour flavour that characterized last season.

Rich

I got 100+ thumbs down for suggesting we’d do well to get 12-15 non penalty goals out of him next season.
Can see this article going down like Wayne Rooney on a Granny.
It’s a decent signing, but hardly one that’s going to elevate us to greater heights…..
Not sure he’s much better than what we have?
Just my opinion… feel free to frantically reach for the thumbs down button and/or correct me.

clins

its not necessarily a bad signing even if he isint gonna score 20 goals next season in my opinion . we need to consider the overall performance of the team . last season despite giroud being our first choice striker , we’ve had the worst run of play when he was our striker . with him the team was slow in transition and ponderous . arsenal played the best football when we moved away from him when sanchez was played as striker and welbeck was played as striker . both of them as strikers are not as good as giroud but both of them suit the arsenal style better than giroud that too despite welbecks poor finishing. so what if welbeck started to chip in with 45 goals every season , our team would be much much better. thats essentially what we are getting when we sign lacazette

sad eyes

Agree, what we’re talking about here is danny wellbecks work ethic and theo’s finishing in one package meaning we can replace those two players with 1 player who doesn’t have gapping holes in their game. A player who, can make the team play better, like danny, while scoring like giroud, and working unlike theo. Excellent signing

Crash Fistfight

I’d love it if Welbeck scored 45 goals every season.

High Plains Gooner

Right, but we still looked more defensively solid with the 3-4-3 even if the stats dont show it.

Geezy

To heck with those mediocre, underwhelming numbers. Personally I think he can and will score 28-30 goals next season.

Rook

Love your believe Geezy, Arsenal type of play is quite different from that of Lyon, He ll shoot and score more cause he in a more fluent and creative team.

Rook

Sell Sanchez for £50m and buy Aubumeyang

nelson

pointless.

Gunner Red

Also unlikely that Aubumeyang could be purchased for £50m.

SG_Gooner

Swap deal

sjr

How many penalties does Lacazette win or directly cause? It would be interesting to know whether he creates the penalty opportunities for himself and whether that might impact on how often Arsenal are awarded them, and therefore his potential strike rate

Jack4343

I don’t get the knock on him regarding all his goals from the penalty spot. One, a successful penalty is a goal and two, he’s the center forward and I’m sure he drew a good amount of those fouls that lead to his penalty attempts. In my mind, those drawn fouls should count as chances created as they create a very high percentage shot.

PFo

Hey Tim, thanks for the very interesting article.

On Lacazette’s shooting and whether/how it predicts how many goals he’ll get at Arsenal:
You criticize him for only getting 72 non-pen shots last season (in the league, right?), saying that 100 is seen as the minimum for an elite striker (I’ve never heard that, but I believe you). But surely it must be taken into account that he only played in 30 league games last season (28 starts). By comparison, Alexis played in 38 (36 starts) for Arsenal. That low 72 also drags down his average number of shots over the last 3 seasons, since as you say he got 92 and 87 shots the two previous seasons (much closer to the magic 100).

So with that in mind, the average shots per 90 number seems more pertinent. You say he’s only averaged 2.7 shots per 90 over his career, and admittedly that’s considerably below some other top strikers. (The more relevant number would be the average over the last three years, since that’s the time he blossomed into a great goal scorer after starting his career on the wing (where you’d expect fewer shots), though by my quick (possible wrong) calculations he’s still averaged just 2.7 shots in the league over that shorter time period.)

So if we consider the 2.7 per 90, your prediction of only 14 non-pen league goals next year seems a bit low, even taking into account Alexis being there. Let’s say he stays relatively injury free and starts, say, 35 games (and let’s assume further that he’s rarely subbed, so that # of games is roughly equivalent to # of 90 mins, though of course this is an idealization that bumps his numbers up slightly). Then at 2.7 shots per game, and a similar conversion rate, he’ll get around 20 non-pen goals no prob. This is true even assuming Alexis is around (unless we think Alexis will dramatically drive his shot average DOWN from where it has been, which strikes me as unlikely, since Lacazette will be playing as our CF and Alexis is happy to provide assists, especially when he respects the skills of the player he’s passing to, e.g. Ozil), and even not factoring in the good possibility that being the spearhead of a much better team than Lyon would have a positive effect on his shots per game.

Even if Alexis stays, Lacazette may well be our penalty taker (against this prediction is the fact that Alexis is “top dog”; for it is the fact that Alexis is hardly faultless from the spot, he hasn’t always been our penalty taker since it used to be Cazorla, Lacazette clearly is very good at taking them, and he will be our main striker). Or they may share penalty duties. If he gets, say, a modest haul of 4 penalty goals over the course of the PL season, that’d be around 24 league goals, without even factoring in any serious changes to his style of play wrt shots and conversion rate. And of course that’s not counting cups and Europe, where he’s unlikely to play as much, but where you’d still expect him to comfortably get, say, 4-6 more, over those three competitions. So even assuming he keeps on the same basic trajectory he’s had up until now, you’re talking a 25-30 goal striker.

If Alexis leaves (especially if he’s replaced with someone like Lemar, who is very much a creator more than a scorer), then one would expect Lacazette’s numbers to go up further, as you say.

Lastly, on the point about Lyon’s shot totals being higher than Arsenal’s. First, we had a period of last season where we were truly atrocious, and I’m guessing this may have hurt our total shots. I think anyone would grant that if we play that badly for a significant period next season, Lacazette will struggle (along with everyone else). We’re assuming (at least I am) that we’re not going to be THAT bad for any length of time next season. This might prove to be overly optimistic. But second, surely the quality of our shots in comparison to Lyon’s needs to be taken into account? Arsenal are famous for passing up chances to shoot in favor of better shots (aka “walking it into the net”). So if Lacazette is, in general, less shot-happy than the likes of Alexis or Kane, preferring to err on the side of shooting efficiency over sheer number of shots, then the number of shots that Lyon and Arsenal averaged, respectively, wouldn’t be as good a predictor of the number of shots or goals Lacazette will get, as much as would numbers that capture how good their respective attacks are at creating high quality chances. Even in spite of our mid-season slump last year, I feel fairly confident that Arsenal is (and will be) better at creating high quality chances than is a less-talented attack like Lyon’s.

PaulS

On the number of shots thing, Alexis took 51 of his shots from outside the box, Aguero 39, compared to 12 outside the box for Lacazette. In terms of shots within the box rather than speculative long range efforts he seems to be pretty similar to Alexis. That may explain Lacazette’s high shots-on-target percentage too. Fewer “glory” shots.

Actually the Arsenal player his shot numbers match with pretty well is Theo Walcott, except Lacazette’s conversion rate in France has been far better.

Kind of strange thing is that Lacazette’s conversion rate for shots outside the box appears to be really good. Should maybe encourage him to take a few more.

Xxxrob

Interesting read as always matey. Numbers are one thing but I think the real boon of this signing are what he will bring to our play in terms of how the team attacks with a quick forward vs. a giroud type as a whole. Hard to quantify maybe because we’ve only a small sample size to look at with Welbeck in our 3-4-2-1 but I think we looked much more dangerous and fluid towards the end of the year with welbz vs. giroud up there so… adding a more clinical version of welbeck should only be a good thing for us.

One thing players with pace and movement give is space to others so it isn’t unfeasible that *his* numbers may not skyrocket but rather you see more goals from Ramsey,ozil or Sanchez next year because of the chaos his darting around will create.

Fuckin buzzed for this year. Lots to do still but we’ve made a hell of a start

john rambo

Would it be worth while looking at the stats of Aguero and sanchez before they joined a premier league team too before comparing him to them?

GunnerYY

I hope you put Giroud there over Sanchez because we know Laca and Sanchez(if he stays) will play together meanwhile Giroud will be a backup.

Goonie

Excellent analysis! I do hope we sign Lemar I think it’ll be good for chance creation.

Rich

Like the look of Lemar.
Again not sure if he’s part of any specific plan?
If we revert to 4-2-3-1 he’d play on the left.
If we stick with 3-5-2 would he play as a 10? A left wing back? Or a box2box?
Arsene never seems to have a specific plan.
He claimed Xhaka was a box2box after hinting at the end of 2015/16 he wanted to play with 2x box2box midfielders.
Then he said we was a depp lying playmaker.
Only last summer he admitted Theo wasn’t a striker after 11 years.
I’m not sure Arsene knows what he wants? or has a clear idea of the way he wants us to play?
Ox he says is a central mid but he rearly looks like one.
it’s all a bit muddled, not to mention we need to let go of 10 players from our squad go before we buy anyone else.
Getting shot of the likes of Theo, JW10, Gibbs, Debuchy, Jenks, Campbell, Ospina, Lucas, Chambers.
Then letting good squad players go after we acquire a couple of upgrades.
This isn’t being radical either, we currently have 34 players on our first team squad list.

PFo

Yeah, agree with all your basic sentiments here.

Dino

How do u calculate the quality of the shots/goals/dribbles (opponents adjusted)? I believe ligue 1 and EPL are not on the same level.. in that case.. can the direct numbers comparison with EPL strikers still help us? Interested to know..

determined culture

why not pair xhaka with lemar in CM and put Ozil in AM? 3 of them pass masters will create plenty of chances with their short long passing combination. then put 2 strikers up top. welbezette or lacaroud?

ThinkingGooner

Can see why Wenger’s going for a creative winger like Mahrez or Lemar. Laca has to be the focal point. Don’t think a team with Sanchez and Laca is going to work in favor of Laca if there is no creativity from the other wing. Sanchez plays deeper and demands the ball too much. Might isolate Laca.

Laggy

I think there is a good bit of room in the current attacking schema if he can fit the mobile forward role. I think there have been several chances created not for Alexis that neither Grioud nor Welbeck could make the best use of. Wenger clearly needs a mobile forward to play the kind of game he envisions as it affects the whole field (depth of opposition backline, press space, etc) and it would be especially advantageous with his seemingly preferred midfield of Xhaka and Ramsey.

Other than that I agree that he may struggle a bit in his first season, but I also am very happy that we have a more assured penalty taker as we’ve missed a few in the league the last couple seasons. (Sidenote: Does Alexis take pens better for Chile than us?)

TweakinGooner

What are Welbeck’s shot on goal %?

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