COMMENT By Matt Farr
Football Insider analyses three main talking points from Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Sutton in the FA Cup on Monday.
28-year-old must start more
If you take a step back and look at the whole Arsenal squad, there aren’t many players with a better return than Lucas Perez. Yet the 28-year-old is the one that finds himself down the pecking order. Arsene Wenger has shown a preference to the likes of Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott in the wider areas, despite fans often calling for Perez to play, and given the below-par performances of late by some of Arsenal’s first-team players, it only adds to the fans’ frustrations. The bottom line is, Perez simply has to play more for Arsenal. He has done more than enough to deserve regular first-team football at the Emirates, but for whatever reason, Wenger is not giving it to him. His goal against Sutton takes his tally up to seven goals and five assists from 18 appearances for Arsenal. Reports emerged on Monday that the Spaniard was looking to quit Arsenal given his lack of opportunities; quotes that his agent has now denied. But if there is even the slightest truth behind the outburst, then Arsenal simply have to reward him with regular action. What more does he have to do?
An unconvincing win
Take nothing away from Sutton, they performed very well and handled the occasion. But the 2-0 margin of victory really did not flatter Arsenal. Wenger named only a few fringe players in his team, choosing largely to keep his faith in his more regular first-team stars; yet, it was still a fairly unconvincing display. There might have been some issues with the playing surface, but that cannot account for everything. Was it complacency? Whatever it was, it made it an uncomfortable night for Arsenal, and not exactly the perfect response to the emphatic Bayern Munich defeat last week. The fact that Wenger turned to Alexis Sanchez for the final 20 minutes of the game to see things out proves how much of a struggle it had been. Several of the players, meanwhile, looked edgy and nervous; and they are still to regain the confidence that has been drained out of them in recent weeks.
Gunners go marching on
Nevertheless, it is Arsenal – not Sutton – that will take on Lincoln in the FA Cup quarter-final. A second ‘favourable’ draw moves the north London club one step closer to title glory, while their main rivals face more stern tests in the competition. Wenger has won the FA Cup six times during his 20 year tenure, but he is under more pressure than ever to succeed this season. This could be his last season as Arsenal manager, and if that is the case, he will be hoping to end on a high with another FA Cup title in the bag. Following their disastrous Champions League first-leg tie in Germany, and their faltering Premier League campaign, it is arguably their only remaining chance of winning silverware this term. It’s by no means a perfect result for an Arsenal side chasing more than just a domestic cup title, but it might have to do.
In other Arsenal news, Dietmar Hamann has savaged this Arsenal 24-year-old on Twitter following the win.