‘He is not a selfish player’: Arteta hails Lacazette’s Arsenal leadership

Mikel Arteta heaped praise on Alexandre Lacazette after Arsenal’s 2-0 win against West Ham, suggesting he is front-runner to take the club captaincy for an extended period.

Lacazette took the armband for a second successive game after Pierre‑Emerick Aubameyang, who was officially stripped of it on Tuesday, was again dropped from the matchday squad. Although the Frenchman missed a penalty, he set up Gabriel Martinelli’s opener and put in a commanding all-round display. Arteta gave no indication of when Aubameyang would return but hinted Lacazette will occupy the role for the foreseeable future.

“Alexandre is the next in line and he is taking it the way everybody saw, with such pride and commitment,” Arteta said. “I am really happy with the way he played. Absolutely he has embraced the captaincy, but Laca has always been like that in the dressing room. You see the way he acts with the young players, his willingness to help. It’s in his nature, he is not a selfish player, he is happy to make the rest better.”

Arteta’s comments were in stark contrast to his appraisal on Tuesday of Aubameyang, who he said had failed to show the requisite “commitment and passion”. There remains doubt over Lacazette’s own future given his contract expires next summer, but it appears likely he will captain Arsenal when selected over the coming weeks. Arteta also has options to rotate the captaincy among a “leadership group” of senior players that includes Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding if Lacazette is unavailable.

Asked whether Aubameyang would return to the squad for the match on Saturday at Leeds, where Arsenal will seek to cement their top-four place with a third successive win, Arteta simply said: “No news.”

A high-tempo display that could have brought more goals, the win eventually confirmed by Emile Smith Rowe, delighted Arteta. “I’m really pleased with the performance, the attitude, the commitment and the quality we showed. It sets the tone of the team against a really good side that is very difficult to dominate the way we did today.”

David Moyes, managing his 600th Premier League game, had no complaints about the outcome. “I didn’t think a lot of our performance,” he said. “I thought Arsenal played well and had good intensity. We weren’t able to deal with it at the start or in the second half.”

Although West Ham’s players protested against the red card awarded to Vladimir Coufal in the incident that brought Lacazette’s spot‑kick, Moyes said his defender should have dealt with the situation better and that the referee, Anthony Taylor, “might have got this one right”.