By Matt Farr
Arsenal striker Lucas Perez has been omitted from the matchday squad to face Chelsea on Saturday – and fans on Twitter are stunned.
The 28-year-old has not been a regular starter this season, but he has already built a strong relationship with the fans.
Since his move to the club in the summer, Perez has contributed seven goals and six assists from just 17 appearances, making him a surprise hit at the Emirates, with fans calling for him to get more regular action.
However, there was no place for him when Arsene Wenger named his squad to face Chelsea in the Premier League, which sent Arsenal fans into a frenzy on Twitter.
The confirmed line-up was announced via the club’s official Twitter account.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 4, 2017
Fans have speculated whether the Spaniard is injured, or if he was simply dropped from the line-up altogether, but there has been no official confirmation yet as to why Perez was omitted.
Nevertheless, many Arsenal supporters were still shocked to see him left out of a game that is likely to make-or-break their Premier League title hopes.
Here is a selection of their messages on Twitter:
We have a confused man running the club from the sidelines. God knows what's the reason for Perez being excluded from the squad https://t.co/jTzQJUx124
— Conor O'Leary (@Con_AFC1886) February 4, 2017
I really cannot see us winning the battle in midfield today. ????
Can't believe Perez isn't in the squad, that is if he's not injured #AFC
— Edd Owsley (@owsley32) February 4, 2017
Surely Perez can't be fit if Adelaide is on the bench ahead of him.
— Mozárt (@afcMozart) February 4, 2017
— Olasoji ???????? (@Olasoji_AFC98) February 4, 2017
I think Arsene was forced to buy Lucas Perez, he clearly doesn't rate him. hmm…. not good at all.
— Dickson Andre (@dre4afc) February 4, 2017
I hope Perez has a knock cos leaving him outta the squad is a crime
— J Day AFC ⭐️⚽️⭐️ (@jmday1980) February 4, 2017
What's Lucas Perez gotta do to start a game ????
— (._.) (@AFCKoyes) February 4, 2017
I'll never understand how Iwobi starts virtually every game for us, but Lucas Perez struggles to make the bench???? #AFC
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) February 4, 2017
Regardless of Perez’s inclusion, Arsenal simply must win the game to keep themselves in the title race. They head into the tie already nine points adrift of Chelsea, following a disastrous defeat to Watford on Tuesday.
Defeat could see them not only fall even further behind the league leaders, but it would also allow rivals Liverpool and Manchester City to jump ahead of them in the table, while Manchester United could also move within just two points.
Wenger made three changes to his side to face Chelsea, with Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott returning to the starting XI in place of Gabriel Paulista, Olivier Giroud and the injured Aaron Ramsey.
In other Arsenal news, Chris Sutton believes Tottenham are a better side than Arsenal for this reason.