Don’t mean to discourage analysis and writing, but a couple things I want to point out that really made this a hard read.
- Fernando Torres was a fantastic finisher who DID come to fruition in the premier league — that he was one of the most dangerous strikers in the Prem for Liverpool for over three years, enough for Chelsea to pay a then astronomical 50 mil pounds or so for him in Jan. 2011.
- The tired trope of “lack of consistent quality” about Arsenal’s forwards, saying that having Giroud and Sanchez was “never enough for Arsenal by season’s end” is really a bit lazy and silly. Sanchez was definitely not “never enough” while Giroud scored over a goal every 100 minutes in his limited premier league minutes.
- Arsenal’s undoing came in a series of losses to the top teams (they were below average, though not horrible against the top 6) and in lost points where they gave up too many goals (Crystal Palace, West Brom, Bournemouth). Explanations for the poor season should come down to explanations of this (and giving up similarly way too large scores to Bayern).
- The idea that Arsenal was better with Sanchez on the wing needs examination. It may be his ‘home’, but by expected goals Arsenal’s attack was often better in the brief period of time he played at center forward. The idea that they now bring a “second threat” with Lacazette is just… I mean come on. This site can be better than the Daily Mail.
- Similarly saying that Arsenal is a team full of playmakers making them an excellent destination for Lacazette… Well that’s true of any forward. And every top team has a number of playmakers, or at least plays a system that affords them many chances (Chelsea and United obviously less so, but to deny that they have anything but near top class midfielders supplying their forwards…). It would have been better if there was some real tactical analysis of how Lacazette may fit or not fit with Arsenal’s style and certain players (i.e. will his style clash with Sanchez, what sort of spaces does he like to take up, get the ball in, what speed of attack is he best in, does he require the ball, how will he cycle positions, who will likely work best with him based on style, etc…).
- I think you’re point about converting chances is important, though it could use some slight tweaking. The fact that his conversion rate is unnaturally high, and that he doesn’t take quite as many shots as other top forwards is indeed a concern. This isn’t, however, because the premier league is so different from other leagues, and so much harder with so much more effort (and the defenders will abuse you), [insert unhelpful stereotype about the premier league here], etc. It’s simply because while conversion rates from season to season have been shown to vary wildly, the ability to create and take shots doesn’t. The best scorers in the world take the most shots, and while their long term conversion rates are good, they still vary wildly year to year. So it’s a concern he’s converting better than Messi and Ronaldo do (long term), but not with the same shots (getting into the right spot to take a shot is the most repeatable and predictive skill we have for forwards, at least for basic soccer statistics). One thing of note, though, is his conversion rate has been unnaturally high for a number of seasons. So either he has been very lucky (probably, though I hope not), or he is quite the finisher (more likely than normal giving the volumes of seasons. The penalties, as you mention, help).
- Again, sentences like this make this sound like the Daily Mail: “Taking penalties ups your shot percentage significantly and the fact that he converted ten should speak highly to how deadly of a finisher he may or may not be.” That sentence contradicts itself and doesn’t end up saying anything. It’s just kind of a turnoff.
- Really liked the part about the percentage of where his shots came, but having no other top players to compare it to makes me wonder if it’s any different from most deadly strikers.
Sorry this ended up being long and very negative. I don’t want to dissuade good writing about soccer (or especially Arsenal), nor sound pretentious at all (you pulled together this article, not me). I also don’t know what/how you want to write or what/how this site writes. But I found the article really difficult for the reasons above (hope you made it to the end). Writing this side of the pond on soccer is always great. But hopefully it’s well thought out and insightful, and avoids silly cliche sentences that belong in a tabloid. Good soccer writing involves analysis that’s new and thoughtful, or significant in some way. In this case it really should provide insight into style of play, tactics (not just cliches about teams) based on facts and careful observation. Soccer is about the little things, where and how a player receives the ball, what their movements are off of it, how a defense sets up long before the attacker is 1v1, and most of all how players relate to each other (partnerships). Hope to see more of this in your next article.