Alexandre Lacazette is the “glue” that holds Arsenal together, according to manager Mikel Arteta, with the France striker taking on more of a leadership role ahead of his 30th birthday.
Over four seasons at Emirates Stadium, the accomplished forward, who has an outstanding goal-scoring record, has not always been the most consistent choice for the Gunners.
He has, however, taken the captain’s armband when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been ruled out, and has scored six goals in his last six games, including a crucial brace in a 4-0 Europa League victory over Slavia Prague last time out.
With Lacazette firing the Gunners into the semi-finals of the Europa League, Arteta said of his influence in north London: “In key moments and in big matches, you need players – and senior players who have this experience – to make the difference for you.
“For me, in his style and in his development, even if he’s soon turning 30 years old, he’s on the right path because he’s very willing to learn. He’s doing it a lot better now than he was before.
“He really binds the team together, which is a difficult attribute to find in a striker, but he has it.”
Lacazette, who turns 30 on May 28, has made 38 appearances this season in all competitions and scored 17 goals.
With that total, he’s only two attempts away from matching a personal best for Arsenal, and he’s on the verge of passing 20 for the first time in England.
Lacazette was able to drive uncharacteristic misses in the first leg of that match to the back of his mind thanks to a deadly double in a must-win meeting with Slavia.