11 Aug Wenger high hopes for Lacazette
Arsene Wenger is hopeful new signing Alexandre Lacazette can follow in the footsteps of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and transfer his sensational goalscoring ratio into the Premier League.
The Gunners will kick-off the new season on Friday night when they host 2015/16 champions Leicester at the Emirates Stadium, with club-record recruit Lacazette likely to lead the line.
While there remains question-marks over the Arsenal future of Alexis Sanchez, who misses the visit of the Foxes with an abdominal injury, Lacazette will be aiming to become a new fan-favourite in north London.
The 26-year-old France international boasted a goal every 86 minutes in Ligue 1 for Lyon last season and, after forking out £45million, Wenger believes Lacazette can be just as deadly on this side of the Channel.
“With Lacazette it’s simple,” he said when asked about the player’s qualities.
“He is an intelligent player who can integrate our game well as we have a game backed on mobility, technique and I think he can integrate that well.
“After that we get the efficiency. His record in France is to score one in 80 minutes. If he can maintain that record that would be ideal for us. As a game is in 90 that would guarantee you a goal (in every game).”
While the challenge of scoring in Ligue 1 may vary from finding the net in the Premier League, Wenger wants Lacazette to use Ibrahimovic as his yardstick.
The Swede left Paris St Germain for Manchester United last summer and hit 28 goals before his season was curtailed by injury.
“Goalscoring record is not necessarily transferable from the French League to the English league, that’s for sure,” said Wenger.
“But you could say that Ibrahimovic transferred an identical amount of goals from France to England. So that’s the target Lacazette should set.”
As well as Sanchez, Wenger could be without a number of other key players for the season-opener and had fitness concerns over Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker.
Laurent Koscielny is suspended which means Wenger’s other summer signing Sead Kolasinac is in line for his full debut.
Leicester have not beaten Arsenal in the league since 1983, with two of the three defeats they suffered in their shock title-winning season coming at the hands of Wenger’s men.
But manager Craig Shakespeare feels his side are ready to hit the ground running and end that barren run.
“The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and Arsenal are one of the best clubs in it, year after year they’ve shown their consistency,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to beat them yet but there’s always a first time and it would be nice to think it would be Friday night. The players are champing at the bit to get started.
“It will be difficult, with the quality of their players, their fan base and the money that they can spend, but that’s the Premier League.”