Giroud may start for France but Lacazette still better option for Arsenal
Arsenal have signed Alexandre Lacazette, but how does he compare to Olivier Giroud? Here's a statistical breakdown.
Higher scoring rate
Giroud has 69 league goals over five seasons, with a career-best of 16 in one campaign. Lacazette, meanwhile, has netted 76 league goals over the last three years, with at least 21 in each season. This past campaign he scored 28 in 30 games for a rate of 0.93 goals per game. That was fifth-highest across the top five European leagues, trailing only Lionel Messi (1.1), Edinson Cavani (0.97), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (0.97) and Harry Kane (0.97). Lacazette scored 42.9 percent of Lyon's Ligue 1 goals when he was on the pitch, a higher rate than Harry Kane (41.4), Cristiano Ronaldo (37.6) and Lionel Messi (36.3).
Giroud is an old-fashioned centre-forward, a strong physical presence in the box and an excellent target man. But he's very limited outside the area, where he doesn't pose much of a threat to defenders.
Lacazette, meanwhile, has played as both a winger, attacking midfielder and striker at Lyon and could be deployed anywhere across the front three of Wenger's recently adopted 3-4-2-1 formation. If Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both stay at the club to team up with Lacazette, they would form an attacking trident that's much more dynamic and fluid than when Giroud plays up front, as they could interchange positions and create chances for each other.
Over the last three years, Lacazette also created 35+ scoring chances each season. The only other player in Europe to create 35 chances and score at least 20 goals in all three years? Messi.
In the final third, Lacazette has a passing accuracy of 71.3 percent over those three seasons, having made 1,517 passes. Giroud, meanwhile, has completed 60.3 percent of the 919 passes he made in the final third during that span. Lacazette's passing accuracy is even higher than that of Sanchez (68.1 percent), though the Chilean attempted nearly twice as many passes (2,888).
Converting big chances
While Lacazette is much more dangerous outside the area than Giroud, he would also make sure the Gunners still have a massive threat in the box. When it comes to converting "big chances" -- labelled as a high-quality goalscoring opportunity -- Lacazette has a similar scoring rate to Giroud. Over the last three league seasons, Lacazette has taken 73 big chance shots (excluding penalties), scoring 40 such goals for a conversion rate of of 75.5 percent. Giroud's is slightly higher, 76.9 percent, but with 33 fewer shots. Sanchez has scored 29 such goals on 50 shots, a rate of 58 percent.
Proven penalty taker
Some of Lacazette's critics would point out that a lot of his goals have come from the penalty spot. But at Arsenal, that's a much-needed quality. The Gunners have missed four of the last 15 league penalties they've been awarded. Lacazette has missed four of 24 attempts since 2014-15. He has also won five penalties in those three seasons, two more than Sanchez, Arsenal's leader.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.