Leandro Trossard – the two footed “magician” adding an extra dimension to Arsenal’s attack

When Kai Havertz looped a hopeful cross to the back post, it looked like a fitting end to a first-half in which Arsenal were struggling to find the magic final touch.

They had managed to work the ball in behind Wolves but they had not created a single big chance — that had fallen to Wolves’ Joao Gomes who drew a great reflex save from David Raya — and it looked set to be a tense 45 minutes in what had the potential to be a ruinous week.

But Gabriel Jesus used his street smart to nudge Matt Doherty and get the first contact on a ball he was always second favourite for. The Brazilian forward dropped to the ground as he took the ball down and, as his legs snapped for possession, he managed to poke the ball in the general direction of Leandro Trossard.

For the man Mikel Arteta says is his “little magician” who can score “with any service”, it was a more than enough.

As the ball emerged from the ruck, Trossard was facing the corner flag with three Wolves players closing in. He had only a step-and-a-half to find a technique that would carry the ball  towards goal from just inside the penalty area.

By the time Trossard had readjusted his feet, the ball had was almost a yard outside of his standing leg. It meant that he was stretching at the point of contact, cutting across the ball in a way that sent the ball spinning sidewards.

It created a trajectory that seemed like it was airborne for an eternity. As it floated towards Jose Sa’s goal, it looked like a mishit bound to go miles wide or tamely end up in the goalkeeper’s hands, but it stayed deceptively straight and clipped the inside edge of the post.

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(Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Until Martin Odegaard scored with the last kick of the game to round off the 2-0 win, this was the strike that had proven decisive in sending Arsenal top of the league again.

“It was not maybe the sweetest but I knew I had a small amount of time to hit the ball. I had to use my toe as well to get it on target,” said Trossard.

It was a snapshot indicative of Trossard’s often unconventional but effective ball striking. He may not always look as effortless as others but he is the Arsenal forward who constituently shows the most composure and widest variety of finishes.

He has been Arteta’s utility man who has split his minutes between left wing, centre forward and left eight, but with tight games to come from now until the end of the season the presence of Trossard could prove pivotal.

For a player who has started only 20 of Arsenal’s 47 games in all competitions this season, he has carved such a reputation for reliability that were Arsenal presented with one chance to win the league, he is likely the player most fans would back to convert.

The statistics show that he is the most two-footed finisher of all 36 players to have scored over 30 goals in the Premier League in the last five seasons.

Of Trossard’s 35 goals, 20 (57 per cent) have been with his stronger right foot and 13 (37 per cent) have been with his left foot. The closest player to him is Tottenham’s Son Heung-min whose split is 45 right foot and 29 left foot.

The balanced output of both feet makes him difficult to defend against when he drifts into central areas, as he did regularly against Wolves.

“My grandad always told me you have to practice with both as it will help you a lot and that’s why I’m so comfortable on both feet,” said Trossard.

“I have been practicing all my life on both feet because it’s so hard to defend when you’re both-footed. I realised around the age of 16 or 17 when I got to the first-team that I had to be even better at that to up my game.

“It has helped me so much already with the goals I have scored as it makes me unpredictable.”

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Trossard has a knack for coming up with big moments and has now scored nine Premier League goals this season — his highest return since joining English football in the summer of 2019.

In the second half of last season he was the king of the assist but this season he has repeatedly stepped up when Arsenal have been in need.

His season started with an 101st minute equaliser against Manchester City in the Community Shield victory in August and has gone on to include a winner against Everton, a late equaliser at Stamford Bridge and a goal to take Porto to extra time in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Trossard has tended to be more effective from the bench since joining from Brighton last January. Coming into the Wolves game he had averaged a goal every 218 minutes as a starter this season, compared to one every 86 minutes as a substitute.

He has 14 goals and 12 assists for Arsenal give him an average goal contribution every 181 minutes and with Gabriel Martinelli struggling to recapture his best form there is an opportunity for Trossard to capitalise with a regular run in the team.

He embodies Arteta’s theory that Arsenal can share the goals rather than have one 30 goal forward as they now have the most players in double figures for goals with Trossard (10) joining Bukayo Saka (22), Martin Odegaard (14), Kai Havertz (12), Gabriel Martinelli (11) and Declan Rice (10).

After a losing at home to Aston Villa and being knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, a loss to Wolves would have been fatal for their title hopes.

Arsenal’s two goals equalled a club record of 37 away goals in a Premier League campaign set in 2010-11 but Trossard was the man who broke the deadlock on a day that would have otherwise become so much more trickier.

Additional reporting: Duncan Alexander

(Top photo: Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

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