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October 2016
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What exactly does Lucas Perez bring to Arsenal?

by Tony Attwood

The first thing to note about Perez is that he is on the up, and was having his best form at Deportivo, playing in a team that was struggling to score goals.  He got 17.  So at the most basic level the idea is probably that with Ozil pushing through perfect balls, Alexis drawing players wide on one side and Theo running them on the other, he should have opportunity and a spot of space and more chance to score.

The second thing is that he looks rather like a Vardy type player, which suggests Mr Wenger has a particular plan in mind for the team, which this type of player would make happen.

Vardy and Perez have both been late developers, (Perez is 27, the same age that Ian Wright was when he joined) and have both played in different positions – which also makes me think of Henry, and indeed RVP.  OK I am not saying Perez is Henry II, but Mr Wenger does have the habit of seeing players having possibilities in other areas.

But there is also the thought that some have mentioned in passing that there could be a shift in Mr Wenger’s thinking.  Not necessarily of the enormity of the shift involved in bringing Henry in and changing his position, but still a shift – of which Lucas is a part.

Giroud as we know is not fast; but if you play a fast forward in a team with Ozil who can pass through the eye of a needle, and Xhaka about to find a player running forward 30 or 40 yards away, plus Theo who can run on the wing at speed, while still having Alexis ready to cut in, then where are the defenders going to go?  That is going to be the opposition’s problem – how do you defend against that sort of variety?

(Incidentally, just as an aside, I have read several times that Xhaka is the new Emmanuel Petit.  I don’t buy the notion that one player can be the replica of another, but it gives you the idea of how the team is being put together).

In a recent interview with Sky that has been quoted in several other places, Mr Wenger said, “There is a theory that says to go to the absolute utmost of your talent you need to suffer in life. When you look at the Leicester team, not one career of all these players was obvious, like starting on the red carpet at 18 years of age in the Champions League.

“Many of the players have been rejected before…it is an interesting case. N’Golo Kante, nobody wanted him in France for a while. That is a good explanation for his character.”   One could certainly put Koscielny in this group as well.  So was Ian Wright.

So consider now the options of Xhaka.  A 35 yard ball landing in front of Theo.  Or ditto Perez.   Or a through ball to Ozil who does the pin point pass to Alexis, or Perez, or Theo.

This is not to say that the current style of play is abandoned.  This is something else to be added on top of what we already have.  What to call it?

Oh, I know.

Plan B.

Except Arsenal don’t do Plan B.  I know that cos I read it somewhere.

But there is more, because with all this running going on there is now so much more space behind for Ozil, Ramsey, Elneny to come into.  Or indeed if he gets a run in the team, the Ox.   Space, speed and perfect passing.  It is quite a combination.

When Henry was in his prime, teams used to drop back so that Arsenal couldn’t play long balls over the defence for Henry to run on.  That defensive ploy can work up to a point but it does give Ozil etc etc more time and more space.

But ultimately sides will start to work out how to deal with this, and everyone will have their instructions, positions, style.   So what do we do when they start saying, “With Arsenal you drop back and have two lines of defenders to cut them off.”

We have Giroud as well, and either Giroud could come on for the last half hour and the team can play in an utterly different attacking style, or else the club could simply change the line up just at the moment of the handover of the teams to the ref one hour before.  They expect Perez and get Giroud.  They anticipate Theo and get the Ox.

So Perez is allowed not only to disrupt the flow of the opposition game but can disrupt the entire plans of the opposition either by being there, or handing over to Giroud – or the one that isn’t playing can come on as a sub.

We have, in fact, both cover for an injury, and a tactical change of approach.  And there is still more because Perez runs at players, which means defenders have to reorganise – which always creates space for Ozil to play the ball into.

Perez can also play on the wing and can cut in.  Which means that you could actually see both Perez and Giroud on the pitch at the same time with an Alexis, Giroud, Perez forward line.

In fact what we now have is a set of players who can each play in all the positions forwards take up – left wing, right wing, centre forward, number 10, across the front four positions – the idea is that they all can swap positions, confuse defenders and turn up wherever they need to.

Arsenal under Mr Wenger has been at its best where there has been a plan to work to, with back up players able to come into the team and either play to the plan or play to a recognisable plan B. It would seem that the two late transfers were the final parts of the plan slotting into place.

26 comments to What exactly does Lucas Perez bring to Arsenal?

  • Leon

    Yesterday’s Telegraph did a very good Perez article also. Their journo (JJ Bull) must be a gooner.—is-arsene-wenger-tweak/

  • ian

    Sounds good to me.

  • Thanks for that much food for thought. Of course we have such a squad now we can afford to allow Jack to go rehabilitate at another club. I hesitate to predict the team line up as a matter of course but now it is all but impossible. Your team A looks formidable (or formidable as they say in France) but imagining any Arsenal team without Aaron is impossible. But then who do you leave out?

  • nicky

    An extremely fascinating post Tony, emphasising how little we followers of Arsenal FC really know about our manager’s tactical plans, how he intends to use new signings and in consequence how, in general terms, a new game plan might emerge. 😉

  • Omo r'Arsenal

    A near perfect analysis, this post.

    Though Perez may have his weakness(es) in maybe aerial ability or body shield against defenders but I guess we already have that answer in Giroud.

    True, Giroud is slow, he also lacks dribbling skills(the very needs satisfied in Perez) but that assurance he brings to Arsenal aerial challenges at set-pieces must not be de-emphasized.

    And as Mr Tony has opined, indeed Perez and Giroud complement each other.

    When you add the indefatigable Sanchez, the speedster in Theo Walcott to the fray, not mentioning the hungry crops on the bench, it is only natural that opposition becomes too wary into making serious mistakes against Arsenal. I hope that Arsenal capitalises on such, to earn an expected win.

  • Naveen`

    I think we would go with a 4-1-3-2. I don’t think we will be dropping Giroud. He offers a plan C. The only person who can cover his style of play is yaya sanogo and I hope he clicks this year. We need a target man who can distribute and dangerous. Perez is not that. Giroud to an extent is.

  • Zuruvi

    @Leon. Thanks for the link to the Telegraph.
    Their journo has written an article that backs up what Tony is saying.

    I have been a strong advocate for Arsenal to buy another striker who is quick and mote clinical so as to complement/supplement the efforts of Giroud. I hope Perez will deliver.

    I actually think we have a brilliant team over the past 2 or so seasons but we packed a clinical striker. There were too many games where we out-played the opposition only to draw or lose because we didn’t put away the many chances that we created.
    I hope Perez is the brilliant striker we have needed for so long.

  • Menace

    Perez is a focused striker. His mindset seems to be goal bound. He has no reverse gear. I have seen a lot of the footage available on u-tube & what seems special about Perez is that he evades the fouling in his attempt to get his shot on goal. He has pace allied with a hunger for scoring. I hope his forward momentum is not ruined with the defensive philosophy that seems to plague & ruin those that are natural scorers.

  • tissiam

    good read!!

  • nicky

    The obvious worry emanating from your encouraging comment is whether Perez will receive fair protection from match officials.
    I won’t hold my breath. 😉

  • HenryB

    I usually skip Posts, and particularly dreary comments, that drone on and on about this player, or that, who should be in the team, who can then switch with another player and able to make a dazzling something or other to open up the other team, blah, blah — but I love your Post, Tony, full of enthusiasm, and talking sensibly and with clarity about the options that the new ‘spine’ of the team have given us, without being pedantic.

    Good one. More an allusion to cerebral chess than to the standard ‘doh’ draughts — not that there is anything wrong with draughts – if you want a board game. 😀

    You were right about Arsenal having no Plan B, cos you read it somewhere, I too, am concerned that we have no spine to the team – cos I have read and heard about that for yonks.
    Cech, Ospina, Gabriel, Holding, Elneny, Xhaka, and Perez, all bought in recent transfer windows seem to have buggered up that line of media/blog reasoning — but I have not read or heard anything about our ‘strengthened’ spine. Funny that! 😀

  • Gooner S


    Agree with the options outlined. It’s rather good isn’t it? Perhaps I’m alone in thinking that Giroud will remain first choice center forward with Perez or Walcott wide right.

  • David M

    Thanks Tony. Good Article.

    Key point you touch on, which I was highlighting earlier in the window is the positional flexibility that a player like Perez brings. Playing as a striker or winger allows much more dynamic in game changes too. There could be late game chasing a goal times where we might see the old Arsenal front four of Alexis, Giroud, Perez and Theo with Mesut and Xhaka behind them.

    There was a little criticism that we didn’t have a plan B, and I wouldn’t say that hasn’t been unfounded over the past two season as we were too one paced and teams could just fall back and defend in numbers blocking the middle of the pitch and wait for the counter. Now with options we can change the pace of the game rapidly and counter direct football with some of our own. I have said it for some time we are at our most dangerous when we play with pace and Mesut Ozil is one of the best 2-3 counter attacking footballers in the world. With space he tears teams to shreds. We need to utilise that aspect of his game and I think Perez will allow us to do that more

  • Andy Mack

    IMO although the manager rates Giroud for the major contribution he brings to the team and as a target man, he does have a problem with his mobility.
    Our best teams have had players that can move positions within a game and give the opposition different problems. I think we had a CL qualifier against Hamburg a few years back, where RvP, Theo and Ashavin spent the entire game swapping positions. It was great to see the confusion on the defenders faces. Similarly, Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord, Reyes even, and others could and did regularly swap forward positions during a game although in many cases it was only briefly. Some of our less observant fans may not have noticed, but they did it anyway.
    With Alexis, Theo and Danny all capable of doing that, Giroud was the only sticking point. With Danny out (for the moment), this does become an ‘in-game’ option again with Lucas in the squad.
    So just another option really 😀

  • Polo

    Giroud and Perez partnership similar to Giroud and Griezmann would be good to see. Imagine Sanchez, Perez, and Theo roaming around freely at the same time, it could drive the defenders insane.

  • Polo

    Most team already ‘park the bus’ against Arsenal now look like they need to ‘park the A380’

  • sogcity

    I think Mr.tony is right if only Mr wenger can take that.

  • sogcity

    Praying that welbeck should be back on time

  • goonersince72

    Tony – good to see someone recognising the depth and versatility of the squad. Like @Polo, I’d like to see Lucas and Giroud on the pitch together. Giroud’s hold up and link up play will then have an end product – get the ball to Lucas or back to Alexis, etc. I’d play them together behind a midfield diamond:
    Bellerin Mustfi Kos Monreal
    Theo/Ox Alexis
    Giroud Lucas

    I know I’m leaving Santi & Ramsey out, but how many #10’s can you have on the pitch at one time? And I realise it’s an attacking line up. Just a thought.

  • goonersince72

    I don’t know what happened, when I wrote this the spacing of the formation was right and the midfield looked like a diamond now it’s all justified left. Oh well.

  • Gord


    When you submit, it will always remove leading whitespace, and I believe it converts multiple whitespace to a single space.

    Combine that with proportional width font, and it becomes impossible to “format” ASCII text as you would like.


    OT: Corruption

    SportsKeeda is running a story on the decline of Blackburn Rovers. This is not an investigation by a journalist at SportsKeeda, this is reporting on what another party has dug up.

    In any event, it would seem that Blackburn was effectively being run by an agent, and not the owners. Or that is how I read it. It is 3 pages long.

  • goonersince72

    @Gord – thanks, hope it still gives the sense of the formation I’m suggesting. I know there are many opinions on formation, players, tactics, etc. This is just one and not meant to be definitive in any way. For examlpe, I love Cazorla and can’t believe I left him out but he’s not effective out wide. Ozil is the best player in Arsenal, one of the best in the world. He gets to play the #10 and wear the shirt.

    On Lucas, in addition to pace he has a quick change of direction. Will the ref shite call it when lumbering defenders tug on his shirt? No, of course not, it’s still AFC. But one can hope. After all, Alexis did draw a penalty v. Watford.

  • Menace

    @nicky – your right. However I cannot see PGMO being so obvious when Spain is watching their dream. It will cause an international incident if Perez is deliberately injured. Furthermore I think the fans will revolt (should he be injured) after seeing his initial movement & having connected with this positive player.

  • Richard

    Good piece Tony and think it’s the sme ide Wenger has but using Theo in that position. Against certain teams soak up pressure and hit them on the counter of course what Perez also brings is a work ethic and chasing down harrying of defenders with Sanchez and I think probably welbeck when he’s fit you’d have a front three capable of stealing balls high up pitch and breaking at pace. Then in other games score the early goal then as game goes on bring on Perez to counter attack.

  • austinpaul

    Gud piece tony, especially ur travassing of Arsene’s thought processes;hopefully we shall hale Arsene once again nd also hoping d players will deliver for their Boss by being confidently competitive; also hoping d PGMO will jettison their bais nd be Fair so we don’t loose too many points to them as experienced last term.

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