LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal’s record signing Alexandre Lacazette has not been a certain starter this season and will be desperate to prove his worth in their Premier League derby against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Arsenal head into the match in sixth place, four points adrift of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham in third and needing victory to stay in touch with leaders Manchester City.
Defeat to their north London rivals would leave Arsenal’s title hopes hanging by a thread, but there is no guarantee that manager Arsene Wenger will put his trust in his 47 million pounds ($62 million) close season signing to lead the line.
Lacazette has scored six goals in his debut campaign in England, yet has only once played a full 90 minutes for the club.
The 26-year-old came on as a substitute in the defeat by Manchester City before the international break, scoring a goal that briefly brought his side back into contention.
He also did not start the humbling 4-0 loss at Liverpool earlier in the season.
Yet when he has started, the Frenchman, who scored twice for his country in a friendly against Germany on Tuesday, has shown he is not just a goalscorer, particularly in the 0-0 draw with champions Chelsea in September.
Lacazette began the match with Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck in attack, keeping constant pressure on Chelsea’s defence and nullifying their ability to pass into midfield.
Former Arsenal great Ian Wright believes it is time that Lacazette was allowed to shine.
“If I had him in my squad he would start literally every game. He takes half chances, he finishes well with both feet and I think now he is ready to be let loose,” he told the Premier League’s website (www.premierleague.com).
“The more he plays, the more consistently he plays for the duration of the game, the more goals he is going to score.”
Tottenham should be able to call on the Premier League’s joint-top scorer Harry Kane, who is expected to recover from the hamstring injury that forced him to pull out of the England squad.
The striker has scored six times in five Premier League games against Arsenal and will be hoping to cause a defence that has already conceded 16 goals in the league this season further grief.
Manchester City will look to pull further away at the top of the Premier League when they travel to Leicester City later on Saturday.
The league leaders are eight points clear after their unbeaten start to Pep Guardiola’s second season in charge.
Leicester will attempt to replicate their performance in this match-up last season, where a Jamie Vardy hat-trick helped them to a 4-2 victory.
Chelsea visit a West Bromwich Albion side sitting just a point above the relegation zone and in desperate need of a first win in the league since August.
Manchester United host mid-table Newcastle, but are likely still to be without midfielder Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has returned to light training but Saturday’s match may come too soon for the 24-year-old.
($1 = 0.7592 pounds)
Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Christian Radnedge