Mikel Arteta says Alexandre Lacazette needs to play with confidence in order to win back his starting spot at Arsenal.
The Frenchman hasn’t started any of the Gunners’ last four Premier League games, though he has scored in two of his last three appearances off the bench.
Arteta has preferred 21-year-old Eddie Nketiah of late, and there have been suggestions that Lacazette could be sold in order to raise funds for the Spaniard’s rebuild of the Arsenal squad.
But, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton, Arteta was full of praise for the out-of-favour forward.
"Alex is a player that I always liked because he's the type of striker that can do a bit of everything,” Arteta said.
“He's very talented in combining and linking with other [players], his work rate and the way he competes for every ball is rare to find in a striker - and then he has the ability to put the ball in the net every time he's in front of goal.
"It has been a difficult season for him - for other players too - but we've been trying to manage that.
“He has a lot of continuity with me but he had that stroke where he was finding it difficult to score goals.
“I think in the last few weeks he looked much better, was a threat and scored some important goals for us as well.”
Lacazette has scored 45 goals in 115 games for Arsenal in all competitions since joining from Lyon in 2017.
He has found consistency harder to come by this season, and Arteta wants to see him playing with a swagger again.
"I just want to give him confidence, game time and the way he came on yesterday [in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City] showed a lot of willingness to help the team and I am happy with him,” he said.
“We have two strikers that have to fight for their places and I want that type of competition in the squad.
"Everybody needs [confidence] and a striker probably more than any other player on the pitch because in the end, confidence is related to the amount of goals per minute they score.
“They can do everything well but at the end they're getting judged for the amount of goals they are scoring.
"It's the same for everybody but how do you gain confidence from the manager? The way you train, translate it into the way you play, or if you don't play then you have the excuse that you don't have the confidence, it's always like this."