‘That is what we need as a team’: Mikel Arteta says Alexandre Lacazette’s display against Wolves summed up Arsenal’s character as striker fights to the end to force late winner
Mikel Arteta felt captain Alexandre Lacazette summed up Arsenal’s resilience as they battled from behind to beat Wolves with a stoppage-time winner.
The Gunners had looked on course to lose ground on the sides above them in the race for a top-four finish but ultimately ran out 2-1 winners as Jose Sa palmed Lacazette’s effort into his own net in the closing stages.
Earlier, Hwang Hee-chan had been gifted the chance to put Wolves ahead after a mistake from Gabriel Magalhaes and they appeared set to leapfrog Arsenal into fifth before two goals in the last eight minutes turned the game on its head.
Mikel Arteta (right) says Alexandre Lacazette’s performance summed up Arsenal’s character
Club-record signing Nicolas Pepe levelled with a smart turn and finish just 11 minutes after he came off the bench, but it was Sa’s unfortunate glove which completed a comeback for Arteta’s side – who now sit just a point behind fourth-placed Manchester United with two games in hand.
Lacazette endured a frustrating evening and is still without a league goal from open play since December 11 but he kept going until the last, eventually helping Arsenal over the line.
‘Yes and that is what we need as a team,’ Arteta replied when asked if Lacazette’s efforts summed up the team’s display.
‘Now we are building a team with a lot of young talent and new players and they need those experiences.
‘I said to them at half-time, if you want to be in the top at the end of May we are going to have to overturn results maybe two, three or four times and today was an opportunity.
Lacazette worked tirelessly and ultimately forced the winner deep into injury time
‘I’m especially happy when a player makes an individual error that costs a goal and the team can put that aside and win the match and everybody is talking about it.’
Lacazette is out of contract in the summer but is still captaining Arsenal and Arteta felt his performance was not that of a man looking to leave the Emirates Stadium any time soon.
He said: ‘When I see our striker in the 85th minute, chasing a full-back in the corner flag, winning the ball back, playing, going, fighting, missing one chance, missing two chances, going again. What can I do?
‘I can only praise him and try to help him as much as possible and give him support. At the end he got the reward. For me, it’s Lacazette’s goal.
‘We don’t know what is going to happen at the end of the season. What he needs to do is put aside that future.
‘It is part of our game, we don’t have contracts that run for 20 years. That’s part of our job and we have to be conscious of that.
‘There’s nothing to tell him but to praise him, because every single day he behaves like someone that wants to stay with us.’