English Premiership

Lacazette aiming to finish with a flourish

2018-04-07 15:02
Alexandre Lacazette (AP)

London - Alexandre Lacazette's form has mirrored Arsenal's disappointing season but the forward insists he is now ready to play a full role in the final weeks of a season he hopes can still have a successful ending.

Much was expected from the France international when he completed a £52 million move to the Emirates Stadium from Lyon before this season and a promising start produced eight goals by the start of December.

Since then, though, the 26-year-old has been affected by a knee injury that required surgery. He will, however, face Southampton on Sunday having scored three goals in his last two games, including two in the 4-1 midweek victory against CSKA Moscow in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final.

The meeting with Mark Hughes's Southampton side has diminished in importance for Arsenal who lie sixth, 13 points off the top four and with no chance of qualifying for the Champions League via their Premier League position.

Arsene Wenger's men can, though, book a place in Europe's elite competition by winning the Europa League and in that respect, signs of Lacazette's improved form could hardly be better timed.

"The surgery is in my past so now I can play 100 percent," the forward told the London Evening Standard. "It is really frustrating when you are not as good as you want to be. So now I am happy and everything is all right.

"Have Arsenal fans seen the best of me? Not yet because I know I can do more. But I need more time because it is really different than with Lyon. I was in Lyon for some years but it is better and better every day. I feel good on the pitch and I am happy."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who arrived at Arsenal following a £55 million move from Borussia Dortmund, is cup-tied in the Europa League, putting more pressure on Lacazette ahead of next week's return in Moscow.

Meanwhile the fact the Europa League final will be held in Lyon offers an additional incentive for the player, who was omitted from the France squad for the recent internationals against Colombia and Russia.

"That is why I want to go to the final and win but there are some games before the final and we need to perform like last night (against CSKA)," said Lacazette.

"It would maybe be the best day in my life so that is why I want to win."

Arsenal's hopes of salvaging success from a disappointing campaign have been hit by an injury to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who will miss the visit of a Southampton side fighting to climb out of the bottom three after being forced off midweek and he could now miss the rest of the season.

"Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday," said Wenger, the Arsenal manager. "He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We'll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don't know."

Kick-off on Sunday is at 15:15 SA time.

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