After weeks of Arsenal looking at different strikers in the market, they finally settled on 28 year old Lucas Perez. Arsene Wenger pulled the trigger on the Spanish striker and agreed to pay the £17.1 million asking price. After years of fans begging, Arsenal finally had a new striker.
Immediately after purchasing Perez, there was an international break. Since he’s not a part of the Spanish set up, the striker got to stay at London Colney, train with the other members not called up to internationals, and adjust to his new home. Now with a week of training with the full squad and a few games under his belt, let’s look at Perez’s first full week at Arsenal.
With Alexis Sanchez getting a rest after international duty, Perez was thrown straight into the fire and started up top against Southampton. Ultimately, it was a pretty quiet debut for the Spaniard.
Flanked by Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Perez was pretty isolated throughout the match. He failed to connect with the rest of the front three throughout his time on the pitch, receiving only six passes from Mesut Ozil, four from Oxlade-Chamberlain, and two from Walcott, according to FourFourTwo.
Perez only managed to get one shot off, a blocked shot from the top of the box, only completed two passes into the penalty box, and did not manage to create a single chance for any of his teammates, according to FourFourTwo. He was subbed off for Olivier Giroud after 61 minutes. It was a pretty quiet debut for Perez, but it’s hard to expect a lot for a new player that has just come into the team.
Next up was Arsenal’s match away to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. With Sanchez rested he came back into the team. What was somewhat surprising was that he came into the team at striker with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi on the wings, relegating Perez to the bench. He ended up being an unused substitute in Arsenal’s fortunate 1-1 draw in Paris.
After their Champions League exploits, Arsenal went to the KCOM Stadium to take on Hull. Sanchez retained his place up top and Perez was again a substitute. Perez did get a few minutes this time, coming on in the 87th minute. He didn’t really have enough time to make any impact, but did get to be on the pitch for Arsenal’s spectacular fourth goal from Granit Xhaka that capped off their 4-1 win.
It’s been a somewhat quiet first week for Perez. Considering Olivier Giroud did not start any of the three games, conventional wisdom would think that would mean he would play. Wenger does sometimes judge that certain signings need bedding in time, like we are seeing right now with Xhaka, so that could be the reason Perez hasn’t been used too much.
Whatever the reason, it’d be surprising to see Perez not get a bump in playing time as the season progresses. Between his versatility and ability to provide a different option to Olivier Giroud, you would expect that Perez will play a pretty big role in Arsenal’s season.