Arsene Wenger is viewing a sharper Alexandre Lacazette in training these days, and says it’s clear the France striker “was not himself” in the weeks before his knee surgery.
“I realise now when I see him in training that he was not himself for a while, that explains why his goals dried up,” Wenger said ahead of Thursday’s Europa League game against CSKA Moscow.
“He always was adamant that he was OK, but players are like that. He was a good player before, but I think in the last seven or eight games he played he was not completely free with his knee. Unfortunately in our job you need your body. That’s why when you are not 100 percent you can’t play well.”
With Aubameyang cup-tied in the Europa League, Danny Welbeck filled in for Lacazette up front in the previous round against AC Milan and scored twice in the second leg. But Wenger acknowledged that the Frenchman will add a different dimension to his attack.
“It’s good to have him back because it gives us different opportunities. Danny is more a guy who goes behind and Lacazette is more about combination play,” Wenger said. “So to have both options is important.”
The Arsenal boss said he was confident that supporters will turn out for such an important game, and downplayed the recent habit of fans to skip league matches.
“I think you make more of it than it is,” Wenger said. “Let’s not go overboard. … Our fans are disappointed that we are not strong in the Premier League, that’s what happened.
“There are other reasons. It was not the most prestigious opponent [Stoke], it was Easter, there were other stadiums that it was not full. The target for us is not to count the fans in the stands, the target for us to focus on our performance and win the games and accept the public judgment.
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