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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Former Gunner Lacazette is outshone by Florian Sotoca but Bosz defends him: Alex worked hard

By Alessandro Schiavone at Stade Bollaert

With Lens dominating possession and territory throughout most of the game, Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette looked isolated and didn’t get a single chance to add to his tally inside the penalty area.

In fact, he barely touched the ball inside Lens’ 18-yard box as the hosts were on top and could have brushed les Lyonnais aside had they been more clinical.

In the end he was comfortably outshone by Florian Sotoca’s who converted a 82nd minute winning spot-kick after a sequence of missed chances which could have come back to bite Lens.

Sotoca is a late bloomer who was playing in the third tier of French football the season Laca joined Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in a £46.5 deal.

In that promotion-winning campaign the current Lens star netted only eight times in 31 league fixtures as opposed to his counterpart’s encouraging 14 in his Premier League debut season.

But a player’s stock fluctuates, that’s the nature of the game. And the 31-year-old, with six goals in nine this season already, is on course to beating his personal record of eight strikes in a single Ligue 1 campaign. His record stands at eight. On the other hand, Lacazette scored a staggering 28 in his last campaign at his old new club. But that's now nearly six years ago..

And there are few doubts that right now, helped by the fact he’s playing in a well-drilled team, he’s more decisive than Lyon’s centre-forward who returned to the club after five seasons of mixed fortunes in North London.

And probably expected better from a collective viewpoint.

Yet yesterday nightt the ex-Arsenal man paid the price for being surrounded by colleagues who lacked creativity and know-how to pounce.

Lyon were happy to sit back and let the opponents play in front of them.

And for a striker that always spells troubles, especially if quick counter-attacking isn’t a special weapon in a team's armoury.

Laca tried his best to change his fate by working extremely hard off the ball and creating chances for himself.

After the 1-0 defeat at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, his manager Peter Bosz defended him, telling Capital Football that he was delighted with his new recruit’s “endeavour” but refused to pick up on individuals after a “night like that”.

There were some positives to take. And in perfect Karim Benzema style, Laca came short and tried to dictate play.

But despite having a lot in common, as both men were born and bred at the Stade de Gerland from a footballing viewpoint, Lacazette is nowhere near the level of the next Ballon D’Or winner.

In the 27th minute he saw his deflected effort dip and strike the outside of the crossbar, with ex-Nottingham Forest playoff hero Brice Samba beaten.

But either side Lens were simply too dominant and hungrier, while eclipsing Lyon when it came to physicality. Their courage and fleet-footed nature did the rest.

Frustratingly, a number of chances went begging for Franck Haize’s men. But boosted by the unconditional support of their famous crowd, it’s a tough assignment for any team getting something from an away game in Lens.

Kevin Danso tried to lay down an early marker after only 24 minutes but was unable to head a corner goalwards despite being unmarked.

Loic Openda then forced Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes into a routine low save after the restart, followed by a venomous Jimmy Cabot effort which hit the outside of the far-post. Then Sael Kumbedi was denied by Lopes' boot from range.

On the few occasions Lyon ventured forward, they did so with their star striker not involved in the charge. Why? His generosity and willingness to drop deep were key factors as to why he wasn't in his natural no.9 position.

And so the evening brought about another defeat, a fourth in a row for the once all-conquering serial French league winners.

Right now, the table doesn’t make for a good reading as Laca's side sit seventh in the league and already twelve points off league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Meanwhile the Gunners have looked like an entirely different proposition since Mikel Arteta, who branded him a “leader”, replaced him by Gabriel Jesus.

While having to accept that Arsenal have happily moved on with Jesus, he was also outshone by Sotoca.

But at least Laca has already matched last season’s record with 29 games still to go. And there are 2,610 minutes still to play for.

Yet that’s scraping the barrel.

But with that unchanged work ethic of his, there are no doubts he can at least triple last season’s return of four goals in 30 outings.

But that’s grasping at straws of positivity after yet another abysmal night for Lyon.


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