Freddie Ljungberg explains why Alexandre Lacazette was dropped for Gabriel Martinelli against West Ham

Gabriel Martinelli scored on his first league start for Arsena
Gabriel Martinelli scored on his first league start for Arsenal (Picture: PA)

Arsenal interim boss Freddie Ljungberg says Gabriel Martinelli’s energy levels convinced him to drop Alexandre Lacazette for the Gunners’ win against West Ham.

The Gunners recovered from one goal down at the London Stadium with three goals in nine minutes after the break to record their first victory in the Premier League since October 6th.

Ljungberg made a number of changes from Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton, the biggest of which was dropping Lacazette to the bench to give Martinelli his first start in the Premier League in a move that pushed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into his favoured central position up top.

The Brazilian had scored six goals in all competitions before tonight’s 3-1 win but he scored his first league goal when he grabbed an all-important equaliser after an hour played in east London.

Lacazette was an unused substitute against West Ham
Lacazette was an unused substitute against West Ham (Picture: Getty)

It was a controversial call to drop Lacazette and, although Ljungberg says the Frenchman is a ‘tremendous’ player, he says Martinelli’s ‘energy’ convinced him to make the change.

‘Martinelli did amazingly,’ Ljungberg told the BBC.

‘He is like a Duracell battery, he keeps going. Laca (Alexandre Lacazette) is a tremendous player but I had to make a tough decision.’

In Ljungberg’s press conference, the Swede expanded on his decision and says the Brazilian’s ‘lack of fear’ was also a factor.

‘Gabby is a fantastic player. He’s very, very young but he has that energy about him so he goes and goes,’ said Ljungberg.

‘He has no fear, he just keeps going. It’s a pleasure to see him on the pitch and for him to have success today brings a smile to your face.

Arsenal were as poor as they’ve been all season for an hour at the London Stadium but they went up a couple of gears after an hour against the Hammers.

Nicolas Pepe scored his first league goal for the club when he gave Arsenal the lead and the Ivorian then set-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score the third.

Ljungberg insists he has no doubts over the forward’s quality but says he needs time to ‘adapt’ to the Premier League.

‘People always ask me about Nico and I try to explain. He’s come from the French league into the Premier League, which is the best league in the world,’ said Ljungberg.

‘It’s a lot faster, a lot harder. He needs to adapt. People put pressure on him but it’s not easy. What he did today was work really hard offensively and defensively and showed his quality. I’m so i’m really pleased for him. He was a big buy for the club and pressure comes with that as well so I think he’ll fall asleep with a smile tonight.’

MORE: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reveals what Freddie Ljungberg told Arsenal dressing room at half-time in West Ham fightback

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