Arsenal’s current league position may be similar to that when Unai Emery was sacked in December but the changes that have taken place at Arsenal since are immeasurable.
That’s according to Alex Lacazette who says he’ll learn from this season despite it being pretty traumatic for him personally and the team collectively.
Voted the Gunners’ player of the season last year, the Frenchman has failed to hit the same heights this season, struggling with an injury in the early months and poor form in front of goal.
He’s looked a bit more like his old self recently but that hasn’t stopped speculation that he could be sold this summer to help fund a squad rebuild.
In an interview with Canal Plus (translated by Get France Football News), Laca was asked if this had been his toughest season yet at the Emirates.
“At Arsenal, yes,” he reflected. “The injury hung around longer than I thought (to his ankle) and it affected me.
“Afterwards, I had this period without scoring, so certainly it wasn’t easy for me, but I still learned a lot this season, because mentally it was not easy. The difficulties this season are going to serve me well in the future.
He added: “It is not nice to be on the bench. At the same time, in my life I have had moments that were a lot more complicated and I did not doubt myself.
“It wasn’t really doubt, it was more unhappiness, like every player who is on the bench and wants to play.”
On Arteta’s coaching style compared to Emery’s, he said: “It is a completely different way to manage a squad, a team, a different tactical vision as well, it is hard to cite all the changes, there are so many.
“What the coach asks of me is different. They have completely different visions the pair of them.”
It’s not entirely clear what Lacazette’s relationship is like with Arteta. While the boss has spoken in glowing terms about the striker’s qualities, since January he’s forced the Frenchman to share the central striker role with Eddie Nketiah.
You’d forgive Lacazette, once our record-highest signing, for being frustrated by that but he maintains that the competition with the youngster hasn’t affected their relationship.
“Between me and him [Eddie], things are very good, there are no problems. We support each other.
“We know that everyone wants to play and it is the coach who makes the decisions, but between me and him (Nketiah) there are no problems.
He also rates the rest of the new generation. “They are very good youngsters, humble and working every day,” he said.
“I think they are the future of the club because we know that these days clubs need their youngsters.
“They are working, improving – Saka and Martinelli have had very good first seasons. And Joe Willock and Reiss (Nelson) help us with the small playing time that they have, which makes it not always that easy for them.”
He added: “I like to speak with the young guys. Even at Lyon, I really always got on well with them. If it is a youngster or someone more experienced, I will always tell them what I think can help them in a match, they will also talk to me.
“That is the relationship of trust that we have in the team, to try to help each other.”
Last night’s defeat to Aston Villa means Arsenal can’t finish higher than eighth in the league, a long way off the stated aim of finishing in the top four. Building momentum has been hard it the most stop-start of seasons. Lacazette also thinks we suffered from a lack of confidence at times.
“We lacked rigour at key moments in the season,” he said. “We lacked in confidence as a team, because each time we were lacking, whether it was a player at the back or a player up top, who affected the team to the slightest extent.”
You can check out a translation of the full interview, here.