Arsene Wenger has conceded that Alexandre Lacazette’s confidence has taken a knock but insists he is not concerned by his record signing’s goal drought.
Lacazette hit the ground running following his £50million move from Lyon last summer, netting four times in his opening six league fixtures for Arsenal.
But the France international, 26, has now gone nearly 10 hours without finding the back of the net – he last scored in the 3-1 defeat against Manchester United at the beginning of December – and he was largely ineffectual in the Carabao Cup semi-final at Chelsea before he was substituted in the second half.
Lacazette, however, is likely to be given another chance to recapture his early-season form when Arsenal travel to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday.
Wenger could be without Mesut Ozil as he battles a knee issue, while the ongoing uncertainty over Alexis Sanchez’s future may result in him being unavailable. Olivier Giroud, who has been sidelined since Arsenal’s EFL Cup win over West Ham last month with a hamstring injury, will also be absent for a further fortnight.
“(The lack of goals) certainly affects him (Lacazette) a little bit, but I am not worried,” Wenger said. “He was diminished a bit physically on Wednesday night against Chelsea because he was not at his best before the game, but he was as well very isolated.
“It was a difficult game for a striker because he did defend a lot, but overall I don’t worry that he will come back and it’s in cycles. At the moment he’s going through a cycle that is a bit more frustrating for him.”
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Arsenal return to Bournemouth for the first time since their thrilling 3-3 draw on the south coast last season.
Wenger’s side were left stunned as the hosts raced into a three-goal lead, but the Gunners completed a dramatic comeback when Giroud netted a stoppage-time equaliser.
Bournemouth have won only one of their last 10 matches in the Premier League and have slipped to 16th.
But Wenger is anticipating a tough time of it from Eddie Howe’s team as Arsenal bid to get their top-four ambitions back on track.
“Last year was a spectacular game, where it finished 3-3,” Wenger added. “Basically what can happen in the story of a game is that you can go through all kind of states of mind – the nightmare, the relief and then the frustration – because we could have won the game in the end.
“They are a team who have a bit more difficulty this season but down there they can make it difficult for anybody.
“The league is divided into two now. As long as we have a group of seven or eight teams fighting for the top four, the rest are basically fighting to stay in the league, and as long as the positions are not settled, every game will be a cup tie.”