COMMENT by Joe Nelson
Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi will be announced as new Arsenal signings in the coming days but only one of the pair is a guaranteed starter in Arsene Wenger’s strongest available team.
Mustafi arrives in north London at the same time as Spanish striker Lucas Perez, who has joined from Deportivo La Coruna for a fee of £17million.
“We have bought two players in Mustafi and Lucas Perez. They’ve both had medicals but we need to complete the paperwork,” Wenger told Sky Sports, as quoted by their website, in the aftermath of Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Watford on Saturday.
“We have a good little break now and we can help them to join the squad. Lucas Perez is not in the Spanish national team so can join straight away but for Mustafi we have to wait until after the break because he goes with Germany.”
With the likes of Per Mertesacker and Gabirel Paulista both nursing injuries, it looks very likely that Mustafi will slot in alongside the hugely impressive Laurent Koscielny, who has marshalled the Gunners defence well so far this season, after returning from his holidays.
The new 24-year-old German centre-back will have to dislodge new signing Rob Holding though, who, at £2million is proving to be a bargain in today’s market, putting in exemplary performances at Leicester and Watford.
Despite a hugely impressive 2015-16 La Liga season, do not expect Perez to take over striking duties from Olivier Giroud, who proved to the world that he is among the best strikers in Europe after a fantastic Euro 2016 display.
Perez may have to bide his time for a run of games in the red and white of the Gunners, but is a superb back-up to have and an excellent option for Wenger to start if Giroud needs a rest.
This signing of Perez has also relieved a lot of fan fears that Alexis Sanchez may start being deployed as an out-and-out striker on a more regular basis, after flattering to deceive in that role during the start of this campaign.
Do not expect the little-and-large combination of Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka to be changed any time soon, as they showed exactly why they should anchor the Gunner’s midfield in their win over Watford, putting in masterful displays.
The only selection dilemma Wenger has is who to start alongside Mesut Ozil and Alexis in the creative roles behind Giroud.
Wenger told Arsenal.com to expect a big season from Theo Walcott, hinting at the fact he may persist with the England winger in the right-flank role, where he has impressed so far this campaign.
However, upon Alex Iwobi’s return from injury, expect the young Nigerian to star for the Gunners in the left-hand side role, as he has only gone from strength-to-strength, proving that he is starting line-up material.
In other Arsenal news, Guillem Balague has delivered his verdict on Perez.