Arsenal travel to Burnley on Sunday in what is sure to be a tentative and tight affair. These are the games that Alexandre Lacazette was signed for.
Arsenal have not had a clinical, prolific centre-forward since Robin van Persie departed for Manchester United in the summer of 2012. It was a controversial exit, one marred by the onrunning contract saga that transpired throughout the season prior, and it left the squad with a somewhat substantial hole that could not be filled.
In an attempt to replace van Persie, Arsene Wenger turned to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman, while a good goalscorer, lacked the clinical streak that van Persie boasted. He missed simple chances, his form would fluctuate with extended barren runs, and he could not provide the prolific streak that was required.
It was not that Giroud was not a good player. But he was limited in his ability to score goals. That was especially costly in tight, cagey games, where chances were difficult to engineer and goals tricky to score. A perfect example is this Sunday, as the Gunners prepare to travel to a Burnley side that have conceded just nine goals all season, a total bettered by only the two Manchester clubs.
That is why Wenger went out and broke the club transfer record in the summer to bring Alexandre Lacazette to the club. The Frenchman is a renowned goalscorer, a ruthless finisher with a cold-blooded streak in front of goal. He has a knack for scoring goals, and he can do so at a consistently high rate. He can also do so with limited service.
That is the type of game that Sunday will be. Burnley are disciplined and regimented, industrious and energetic. They compact the space, they press the ball in their own defensive third, and they do not concede many chances or goals.
If Arsenal are able to score at Turf Moor, then they may have to do so with limited opportunities. It is imperative that they are clinical when such chances arise. And that responsibility rests on the shoulders of Lacazette.
His sharp movement, his attacking guile, his anticipation in and around the penalty area all contribute to him being able to find and exploit space in front of goal. It is then his composure, his technical skill, and his striking of the ball that results in goals.
Burnley are a difficult team to break down. They are astute, intelligent and diligent. Lacazette, however, has a knack for not only scoring goals, but scoring important ones. He may have to on Sunday.