herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lacazette: Defensive mindset has inspired us

Alexandre Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette has revealed Arsenal's vast improvement has been inspired by a fresh approach to defending.

Monday's 2-0 home defeat of West Brom was their fourth victory from their past five games in which they have remained undefeated and conceded only once.

That run followed a troubled start to the season where they lost two of their opening Premier League fixtures, conceding eight goals, and saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain move to Liverpool.

Lacazette struck in each half on Monday to become the first Arsenal player to score in his first three home league games since Brian Marwood in 1988, but a wider positive was perhaps the renewed resilience they have shown.

Their manager Arsene Wenger has often been criticised for focusing only on his team's attack, but the 26-year-old striker said: "During the month of September we have reconstructed ourselves defensively. We are working together.

"There was no feeling of panic in the team - we knew that working together would pay off. They said I (equalled Marwood), but I am not looking for this particular type of record but more stability with the team.

We won and we won with a clean sheet. All was perfect - possession, goals."

However, West Brom's Tony Pulis accused Arsenal's "cheating" Alexis Sanchez of diving and believes his side should have been awarded a penalty at the Emirates.

Jay Rodriguez was brought down in the area by the clumsy Shkodran Mustafi in the eighth minute but he returned to his feet and forced Petr Cech to tip his shot onto a post as referee Robert Madley appeared to play the advantage.

Sanchez had by then already curled wide a free-kick he won on the edge of the area after a challenge from Craig Dawson, and on the occasion of Gareth Barry's record 633rd Premier League appearance, Pulis remained angry at both incidents.

"The disappointing thing is Sanchez falls for the first free-kick, that's cheating," said the West Brom manager, who also felt Mustafi should have been sent off, to Sky Sports.

"Jay is very honest and does not get rewarded. Everyone saw what happened. Sanchez actually dives for the first free-kick and he should be booked for diving.

"Then you see the tackle in the box. The referee had a great view. Everyone has seen it and can make their minds up.

"It's not only a foul but the player can be sent off as well. It can be a penalty and playing against 10 men but let's forget about the referee."

Aged 36, West Brom midfielder Barry set a new Premier League appearance record, breaking that previously held by Ryan Giggs, and Pulis said of his captain for the evening: "Gareth has been a wonderful professional and still is.

"We hope he keeps performing like that until the end of the season."

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