Arsene Wenger has explained why he took off Alexandre Lacazette in Monday’s win over West Bromwich Albion despite the striker being on a hat-trick.
Lacazette’s two goals on Monday night helped Arsenal to a 2-0 victory over West Brom in the Premier League. The Frenchman was looking for his first Arsenal hat-trick as the home side took control of the game in the second half and threatened to add to the scoreline.
However, Wenger took Lacazette off in the 83rd minute to give Olivier Giroud some minutes. Going by his explanation, it was a pragmatic decision. “I took him off because he was tired,” the Arsenal manager told the Standard.
“I would have loved him [to score a hat-trick]… he had an opportunity. But I gave him the penalty as well you know. Overall what you want is to win the game and not take any gamble.
“If they come back to 2-1 it can be nervy in the end so when a guy is a bit tired there’s no need to. They’re very strong on set-pieces, when you have Giroud on the bench, you know we might have to defend them or Giroud could score a third goal.”
Lacazette hasn’t completed 90 minutes for Arsenal since the opening-day fixture against Leicester. He’s often been taken off and replaced by Olivier Giroud in the final twenty minutes of games, usually due to tiredness.
With much of the second half against West Brom played in the visitors’ half, bringing on the 30-year-old striker to defend set-pieces doesn’t sound like the best justification.
Still, while it would have been nice for Lacazette to get a hat-trick, Arsenal have a busy week ahead and managing the players’ fitness is key to getting through it. Giroud, meanwhile, is still searching for his 100th goal in Arsenal colours.
He’ll have another opportunity to get it when Arsenal travel to Belarus to play BATE Borisov on Thursday.