Mikel Arteta says Alex Lacazette has turned around his form thanks to hard work and a helping hand from the coaching staff who’ve been helping him to visualise the changes he needed to make.
The 29-year-old started the season with a bang netting three goals in Arsenal’s opening three Premier League games but he promptly went off the boil and didn’t net again until the Boxing Day win over Chelsea.
That strike – a coolly taken penalty – sparked a mini-renaissance in front of goal with the Frenchman scoring four more times in seven appearances. He’s also looked far more confident in his hold-up play and dovetailed well with youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.
So what changed? Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Wolves, Arteta tackled the question.
“It’s linked to confidence and that’s linked to him obviously playing more regular minutes,” said the Spaniard.
“He’s scoring more goals and he finds himself in better form. Then it’s about supporting our players when they go through difficult moments.
“We have to be right behind them, we have to talk to them, we have to give them tools to resolve the issues they are going through. Laca has done that by working hard. It’s as simple as that.
“He committed to work harder, to sticking to what his abilities and qualities are and the moment he transformed a little bit his confidence, he became a different player.”
Opening up on the specifics of the help given to the player, the boss continued: “[We gave him] A lot of things related to the game. Things he needs to read better about his movement, sometimes about his body language…a lot of things that are important to visualise yourself, then [he needed to] try to correct them.”
When the season ends, Lacazette will enter the final year of his contract. Not so long ago, there was talk of a contract extension but after initial talks stalled – not long after the player was crowned player of the season for the 2018/19 season – he’s been more regularly linked with an exit than a new deal.
Arteta admits it’s a situation the Gunners have to face, but for the moment he wants the striker focused on the pitch.
“We will talk certainly about that situation,” said the Spaniard. “At the moment, what I want is that he keeps performing the way he is until the end of the season. Then it will be the right time to talk about it.”