Arsene Wenger has backed Alexandre Lacazette to return to form soon after admitting the summer signing’s lack of goals is taking a toll on the player’s confidence.
The France international, who moved to the Emirates for £44 million last summer has gone 529 minutes since his last Premier League goal and has netted only four times in his last sixteen games after promising four goal return in his opening seven games for the Gunners.
Lacazette looked particularly isolated in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea and was substituted around the hour mark for Alexis Sanchez. On Friday, the boss appeared to corroborate suggestions that he’d not been at his physical peak, reports had suggested he was ill.
“It has affected him a little bit [his form],” said Wenger ahead of Sunday’s trip to Bournemouth.
“He was a bit diminished physically on Wednesday night. He was very isolated and it was a difficult game for him. I don’t worry that he will come back.”
Given Arsenal sit sixth in the Premier League, five points behind the Champions League spaces, the boss recognises that there is no margin for error at the Vitality Ground this weekend. Last year, the stadium played host to a thrilling match as the Gunners secured a point after coming back from 3-0 down.
“There’s a massive importance for these kinds of games, of course,” noted Wenger.
“We have been distracted a little bit by the cups, but now we have to come back to the Premier League. It’s a very, very big game.
“Last year was a spectacular game, when it finished 3-3. They are a team who have a bit more difficulty this season but down there they can make it difficult for anybody.”
On his memories of last season’s game, Wenger added: “Well the nightmare, after the relief and then the frustration, because we could have won the game in the end.
“Basically what can happen in the story of a game is that you can go through all kind of states of mind. We showed character again in this kind of game. We had a slow start and they were absolutely storming out. They were full of confidence at the time and they were difficult for everybody. I think they beat Liverpool last year as well. Overall they had a good home record.”