Arsene Wenger says Alexandre Lacazette was denied an opportunity to net his first Arsenal hat-trick because he was “tired”.
The France international continued his impressive start to life with the Gunners on Monday as he bagged a brace in a 2-0 victory over West Brom.
Lacazette opened the scoring in the Premier League encounter at Emirates Stadium in the 20th minute, before going on to convert a 67th-minute penalty.
The 26-year-old would have had his eyes on the match ball at that stage, but was replaced seven minutes from the end by countryman Olivier Giroud.
Explaining that decision, Arsenal boss Wenger told the Evening Standard: “I took him off because he was tired.
“I would have loved him [to score a hat-trick]… he had an opportunity. But I gave him the penalty as well you know. Overall what you want is to win the game and not take any gamble.
“If they come back to 2-1 it can be nervy in the end so when a guy is a bit tired there’s no need to. They’re very strong on set-pieces, when you have Giroud on the bench, you know we might have to defend them or Giroud could score a third goal.”
Despite missing out on a treble against West Brom, Lacazette does now have four goals in his seven Arsenal appearances to date.
He will be expecting to get plenty of opportunities to add to that tally over the coming weeks, especially as Wenger has confirmed that he will be staying on penalty duty.
The Gunners have endured their struggles from the spot in recent times, with Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott failing from 12 yards last season, but Lacazette showed during his time at Lyon that he is a reliable option in such situations.
Wenger added: “Until now I gave it to him. I observed him a little bit because we work as well on penalties in training. He took his penalty well.”
Arsenal are next in action on Thursday against BATE in the Europa League, although it remains to be seen whether Lacazette will figure in that contest or if Wenger will once again take the opportunity to rotate his squad in continental competition.