Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has praised Alexandre Lacazette for his reaction to being named on the bench against Newcastle and revealed he predicted the striker would finally break his scoring duck.
Lacazette has been a key figure for Arteta since he took charge at the Emirates, starting seven straight Premier League matches despite not netting since the very start of December.
But he was left out of the starting XI for Sunday’s 4-0 win over Newcastle in favor of Eddie Nketiah, though came on late in the game to end his barren run in front of goal and Arteta was thrilled with the Frenchman.
Asked about the decision to start Nketiah over Lacazette, Arteta explained after the game: ‘The message is very clear: whoever trains like they do, and I see they have the abilities, the quality and the hunger to perform like he’s done today, he’s got a chance to play.
‘And today I decided to play Eddie because he’s been training in a phenomenal way. I decided for him not to go on loan and to stay and as well I have to support that decision.
‘And Laca has been playing all the games with me, he hasn’t scored, and I told him today the decision why and he accepted really well.
‘I said,“ You will come out and you will score a goal ”. He did, and I am so pleased.
‘Not just for the goal but for the reaction of all his teammates and the staff, because it showed how much they love him. And the reason why is because this guy works his balls off every day. ’
Nicolas Pepe also played a starring role in the second half, with Arteta saying of Arsenal’s record signing: ‘We just need consistency from him. Wide talented players in this league are not easy to get because obviously the most difficult thing to do is create things, but we’ve said some things and we need Nico to maintain game by game.
‘He knows that and it’s the way he was applying himself defensively in a few moments, he was top drawer. That’s what he wasn’t doing in the past and when he does that, the rewards in the other box come. He made a difference today. ’
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