Alexandre Lacazette says he is not happy sitting on the bench as Arsenal’s supersub. However, the striker claims he is learning to channel that frustration into match-saving performances like the one against Crystal Palace on Monday.
The French striker’s season started slowly when he tested positive for COVID-19 just as the campaign was getting underway and had to miss the opening two matches.
He has featured in the matchday squad in each of the six Premier League games since then but always on the bench – similar to his role in the last four matches of the previous season.
It is a new deployment for the 30-year-old, who has made the vast majority of his 131 league appearances from the Gunners in the starting line-up.
But rather than sulking, he has vowed to try to channel that pent-up energy into the goalscoring display that ultimately spared Arsenal’s blushes at the Emirates on Monday.
“Yes of course, it’s never easy to be on the bench, you always want to play and bring something to the team,” he said. “This is what I tried to do.
“I wanted to bring a bit of energy to the team. We know when the fans in the stadium are alive and with us, it makes it hard for the opponent.
“Maybe because of the way we were playing at that moment, they were a bit sleepy, so I wanted to just bring some energy that I know they like, and to change the game.
“It’s my work every day in training for this kind of moment when I can help the team and obviously against Palace I scored so I’m really happy.”
Summer signing Albert Sambi Lokonga is another who has had a stop-start season so far, with four starts and three substitute appearances.
On Monday he came on for Bukayo Saka at half-time after the England international was hacked out of the game by James McArthur – and he is keen to find the same sort of fire that Lacazette ultimately provided.
“Lacazette did well today,” the Belgium international said. “He backed me, he backed the team.
“When we come on we have to bring this mentality that Lacazette did.
“He brought fire when he came on and that’s what we need to try to do every time somebody comes on.”
Arsenal are next in action on Friday when they take on Aston Villa in the Premier League.