Arsenal’s new number nine, Lucas Perez, was given his league debut at the weekend against a Southampton side that usually had great success keeping out the Gunners front-line. This was a game that Arsene Wenger’s men needed to win, and so if ever there was a need for a striker to start scoring straight away, this was it. In the end he didn’t score, but Lucas showed plenty of promise and determination.
The Spaniard started as the main striker in a front-three with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. With Mesut Ozil in-behind, this was the perhaps the most exciting attacking line-up the newly recruited striker had ever been a part of. Indeed, he started nervously, often drifting out to wide positions to try and force himself to make an impact rather than simply getting into the box.
His first opportunity arrived mid-way through the first-half, when he was inches away from a tap-in, but the ball failed to arrive at his feet. As the half grew old, Lucas played a part in Arsenal’s equaliser. His scrambling header caused mayhem and the result was a Laurent Koscielny over-head kick. An assist on his 28th birthday was not a bad start for the 17-million signing.
His delivery was effective throughout the remainder of his time on the field. The problem was, while he was out wide, there was no-one getting on the end of the crosses. Perhaps a combination with Olivier Giroud would have been more effective. The Spaniard had a couple more efforts blocked, before being taken-off by Wenger after around 65 minutes. Not a debut that will stick long in the memory, but one that showed determination, hard-work and promise for the future.
The Gunners went on to win the game thanks to a last-minute Santi Cazorla penalty, resulting in a massive three points. Lucas played a role in this win, assisting and causing confusion in the Saints back-line due to his running. The new number-nine will wish for his first goal, but his determination should see him on the goal-tally sooner rather than later. He will be probably be rested for the game against PSG, with Giroud returning to the side for the Champions League. The new signing will be expected to feature again against Hull City on Saturday, however, in a game that he will feel his first goal should come.