While Arsenal are trying to make it work with Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez upfront, Gary Lineker doesn’t want to let the Gunners forget their attempt to sign Jamie Vardy. He recently stated that the Englishman would have easily walked into the starting line-up as Arsenal’s centre forward.
Vardy was Wenger’s top choice to bring in as attacking reinforcement over the summer, but the England forward chose to sign a contract extension and stay with Leicester instead.
According to Evening Standard, during a discussion of Vardy’s first-team prospects with the Gunners had he moved to the Emirates, Lineker believes the England international would have had no competition over a place in the starting-line-up.
“I think he’d walk into Arsenal’s team. Have you seen their centre-forwards?” He said.
“They’re fine but they’re not as prolific as Vardy. They are not as quick as Vardy and they don’t give you the options Vardy does. Olivier Giroud is a certain kind of target man. He will get his one goal in three or whatever it is.
“Lucas Perez, who they’ve brought in, I quite like but he’s not going to be as prolific as Vardy. All players believe they will start anyway if they’ve got anything about them. You can tell Vardy is full of confidence.”
Vardy scored the Premier League’s second most goals in 2015/16 with 24, with Harry Kane as the top scorer last season with 25. Giroud had an overall goal tally of 16, eight behind Vardy.
The English forward clearly has an edge when it comes to scoring goals, but when compared statistically with other attributes there wasn’t much difference between him and Giroud. The French forward had a shooting accuracy of 43% while Vardy stood at 46%. Both had six assists in total last season, but Vardy created two more chances than Giroud’s nine.
The Gunners’ striker does however have a clear edge in scoring from set-pieces with the Frenchman heading seven goals last season with Vardy managing only two with a header. However, performance wise Vardy is more of a threat with the ball at his feet than Giroud has ever been for Arsenal.
The stats do support Lineker’s statement and it shows Wenger wasn’t wrong in approaching Vardy for his services but it is too soon to hold a contest between him and Arsenal’s new boy Perez.
The Spanish forward only made his debut last weekend and needs time to get used to the pace of the Premier League and comparing the two isn’t justified just yet. However, if last season’s performances are compared between the two strikers, Perez had a passing accuracy of 79% with 59% shot accuracy in La Liga as compared to Vardy’s 66% and 46%.
Even though Vardy does have more presence on the pitch than Perez, in his defence the Spanish forward is new to the league and needs time to get acquainted with the pace and the intensity of the competition.
The Foxes’ star would have definitely made a wonderful addition to the Gunners’ line-up but it is in no way a reflection on Perez’s abilities. Nothing can be or should be concluded before Perez gets comfortable in his new environment and teammates. Hopefully once Perez has solidified his footing in the team he would have no problem challenging Vardy’s last season’s goal tally and making Lineker regret ever thinking of comparing the two.