With only a maiden display of 60 minutes against Southampton over the weekend, Arsenal legend Ian Wright has given his rather harsh verdict on Arsenal’s new boy Lucas Perez already.
Speaking on MOTD, Wright criticised Perez exclaiming he is more of a winger than a striker.
“Arsenal need a striker. I thought we would see someone more direct. Hopefully that will happen,” said Wright in his analysis of Perez’s debut performance.
“It seemed to me that he’s a winger.”
Perez was chosen over Olivier Giroud to start against The Saints. He acted as a lone striker with Theo Walcott and Oxlade Chamberlain wide on the flanks, with Ozil in the hole as the No.10.
Apart from the exceptional equaliser scored by Laurent Koscielny with an overhead kick, Arsenal’s attack was mute in the entire first half. Perez would move out of his central position from time to time and play out wide but it was hardly a cause for concern. The support from the wings was often missing and the inter-link between Ozil and Perez was never going to be something that will instantly click.
What was absent from the match was also the energy and smooth flow of passes into the box due to which Perez wandered into a wider position for better chances. One likelier cause of this could be the absence of Alexis Sanchez who was short of 100% match fitness and was later introduced as a substitute.
The arrival of Sanchez on the pitch had an immediate impact to Arsenal’s attack but Perez didn’t get a chance to benefit from it as his time on the pitch was called to an end by Wenger, with Giroud entering the fray.
Perhaps a combination of Ozil and Sanchez would play out better for Perez, creating more direct chances for the Spanish striker.
When compared to Giroud, Perez is witnessed as a striker who prefers moving in and out of the box instead of adapting a limited role within the six-yard area like the Frenchman. However, this versatility is no way an invite to criticising his ability to act as a centre forward. Perez does seem to lack in battling aerial combats where Giroud proves stronger but it is too soon to declare verdict on the Spain international capabilities.
Arsenal face Paris Saint-Germain next in their first Champions League fixture of the season. Wenger would likely bring Giroud back in the starting line-up with Perez as a substitute, since the manager insisted that the latter requires a little more time to adapt and sync with his new teammates.
Hopefully a little more training time with the squad and regular match action will make Perez comfortable and score goals for us in no time proving Ian Wright dead wrong.