Four goals in five days is not a bad return for a player who took a fair bit of stick for a terrible miss in last week’s Europa League quarter-final first leg.
In the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – waylaid by malaria – Alex Lacazette has led the line with steely determination this week, playing a vital role in and around the box as a goal-getter and a link man.
A far cry from our attacking woes prior to Christmas, the Gunners have looked genuinely slick in attack against Sheffield United and Slavia Prague on the way to two much-needed wins. It bodes well for the run-in.
“It shows the personality that Laca has,” said Arteta when asked about the Frenchman’s character.
“He missed two big chances in the home game and then you have to see a reaction.
“That reaction could be with some fear, some doubt or feeling a little bit guilty. Or the other one is to have a strong personality and to react, to say, ‘Now I’m going to put them in the back of the net’.
“He’s done that in two games consecutively, being really, really efficient. Then his momentum continues, the form that he’s in continues and it’s really important for the team.”
It’s unclear at the moment if Lacazette is in Arteta’s long-term plans. The striker will enter the final year of his contract in June and the club, who don’t seem particularly keen on offering the 29-year-old a new deal, could look to sell to raise much-needed funds.
Somewhat ironically, a player who hasn’t been nearly as prolific as we’d have liked since he signing from Lyon in 2017 is now only two goals shy of matching his best tally for a season. He hit 19 goals in 2018/19 on the way to being named the club’s player of the season.
If Arteta still harbours doubts about the striker, he kept them close to his chest last night.
“In key moments and in big matches, you need players – and senior players who have this experience – to make the difference for you.
“For me, in his style and in his development, even if he’s soon turning 30 years old, he’s on the right path because he’s very willing to learn.
“He’s doing things in a much better way than before. He really glues the team together and that’s a quality that is not easy for a striker. He’s got it.”