After his previous three goals were spread over four months, Alexandre Lacazette has promised that Arsenal have not yet seen the best of him following a third goal in five days since his comeback from knee surgery.
Lacazette’s Europa League brace against CSKA Moscow also helped Arsenal establish a 4-1 lead to move within reach of their first European semi-final since 2009 and the 26-year-old revealed that he had been playing through the pain of a knee injury earlier in the season.
A decision was ultimately made for Lacazette to have an operation at the end of January and, amid deepening doubts about his status following the club record signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the past week has suggested that they could thrive in the same team.
Arsenal were greatly improved against Stoke City in the Premier League once Lacazette joined the attack with Aubameyang and he has also looked physically much sharper since rehabilitating his knee.
“I know I can do more but I need more time because it is really different than with Lyon,” said Lacazette. “It is better and better every day. A few times before the surgery I felt pain and after I decided with the medical staff it was the best solution. It was really frustrating but now I don’t regret it. The surgery is in my past so now I can play 100 per cent and I am happy.”
Manager Arsene Wenger believes that Aubameyang can play off the left alongside a main central striker and Lacazette also thinks that their styles and personalities really can compliment each other. It was certainly noticeable on Sunday when, with the chance of a hat-trick, Aubameyang allowed Lacazette to take a late penalty against Stoke in order to build his confidence.
“He is different player, he loves the space and I’m a player who loves to get the ball to my feet,” said Lacazette. “I think we can be good together. Auba is a nice guy and, after the first penalty, he told me, ‘If there is another one I will give you the ball’, so it was nice from him. It was good for my confidence. It shows that, even if we are strikers, we can think about everyone in the team and we are not focused only to score goals.”
Having been born in Lyon and progressed through the club’s academy, Lacazette is also acutely aware that the Europa League final this season will be staged in his home city. “It would maybe be the best day in my life,” he said. “I want a trophy and that is why I came to Arsenal.”