Alexandre Lacazette’s form poses selection headache for Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta admitted he cannot guarantee Alexandre Lacazette will win back his place in the Arsenal team after the French striker came off the bench to clinch a 1-0 victory against West Ham on Saturday.
Arsenal struggled to find any momentum for long periods at the Emirates Stadium, before Lacazette turned in Mesut Oezil's header with 12 minutes left.
It was a sweet moment for Lacazette, who has been reduced to a substitute role on several occasions since Arteta took charge in December.
"It is my job to give the manager a big headache. I'm struggling to make the team, but I'm happy to score again," said Lacazette, who has three goals in his last four games.
"Now I have to play well again the next game. Everyone wants to give his best."
Arteta praised Lacazette's focus in the face of his demotion, but he said the form of youngster Eddie Nketiah plus the presence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang meant he had a welcome selection problem.
"We have two strikers who are making life difficult for me. They are both scoring and in a good moment," Arteta said.
"Eddie was the choice today with the way we wanted to play, but I knew Laca was ready to score in the final moments. I could see he was alert and focused when I was talking to him."
Arsenal's third successive Premier League win lifted them within eight points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who defeated Everton 4-0 last night.
Earning a Champions League berth still looks a long shot for Arsenal, who showed spirit to make the late breakthrough.
"I'm happy because big teams find a way when they aren't playing well. You can build from there, with the unity and solidarity the players are showing," Arteta said.
"We are turning the corner in terms of results, but our ship still has to turn a few times more to see what we want to see. It doesn't happen overnight."
West Ham have lost five of their last seven league games and, with only one win in their past nine, they are destined for a nervous finish to the season as they battle to avoid relegation.
"We didn't deserve to lose. We played very well. We didn't take the chances when we had them," West Ham manager David Moyes said. - AFP