Mikel Arteta said that Alexandre Lacazette was missing from Arsenal training this week due to ‘private’ reasons which set tongues wagging online but the truth of the matter is a lot more mundane.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal looks on whilst wearing the captain's armband during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on December 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal looks on whilst wearing the captain’s armband during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on December 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Before Arsenal’s must-win game against Southampton on Saturday, Alexandre Lacazette was missing from training sessions.

Reporters naturally asked Mikel Arteta about the striker’s absence, to which Arteta replied, “Obviously, there are private reasons that I cannot comment on, but I have no other team news to give other than the guys we have discussed.”

This, of course, set speculation running wild but it turns out the forward is ill having tested positive for Covid – again.

Lacazette also missed out on Arsenal’s training session on Friday, putting a real doubt over his participation at St Mary’s, and it has now been confirmed he is not in the squad for the game.

Arsenal's Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) and Arsenal's German-born Portuguese defender Cedric Soares (C)congratulate goalscorer Arsenal's French striker Alexandre Lacazette during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 13, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) and Arsenal’s German-born Portuguese defender Cedric Soares (C)congratulate goalscorer Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 13, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

That isn’t the worst thing in the world given his recent performances, and while Arsenal are still incredibly light in that area, a change might just be what’s needed.

After all, it couldn’t be worse, could it? Lacazette hasn’t scored a goal from open play since December and has just four Premier League goals all season in 25 matches (with seven assists).

Arsenal were said to have been playing with Eddie Nketiah upfront during training due to Lacazette’s absence.

Martin Odegaard will captain the side.

Arsenal team vs Southampton

Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Lokonga, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard (c), Martinelli, Nketiah

Arsenal Subs

Leno, Holding, Ogungbo, Swanson, Elneny, Azeez, Smith Rowe, Hutchinson, Pepe

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.