Perez starts in Wenger 4-2-3-1: Arsenal best possible XI to face Middlesbrough
By Harvey Byrne
Arsene Wenger must not take any chances against a team his side are guilty of dropping points against in previous seasons.
This means the Frenchman should look to play a natural striker in Lucas Perez up front, instead of Alexis Sanchez, who has returned with goals, but also missed a tonne of chances.
The Chile international will have to return to the left side of Arsenal’s attacking midfield, where he will cause many problems to a particular Boro weak spot in right-back Antonio Barragan.
Perez has only started two matches for the north London side following his move from Deportivo La Coruna in the summer, after suffering an injury in September.
He made a 62nd minute substitute appearance during the 6-0 victory over Ludogorets in midweek as he once again looks ready for first team football.
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Arsenal are currently sat in second place, joint with Manchester City in first and they must keep firing on all cylinders in order to end a 12-year league title wait.
Middlesbrough will be missing a key figure of their defence as they line-up at the Emirates on Saturday in loanee Callum Chambers, who is ineligible from playing against his parent team.
It is likely that former Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala will come in for Chambers, with the Boro back line set to face a barrage of attacks.
In form attackers Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott, alongside Perez and Sanchez will look to test a goalkeeper, who isn’t short of mistakes in Victor Valdes as much as possible.
It is expected that Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin will also spend more time attacking than they will defending and they will look to cause a threat out wide.
However, the Gunners back line will be looking to secure a clean sheet, which they didn’t manage against a struggling Swansea side so they will be aware of the attacking talents of Gaston Ramirez, Alvaro Negredo and Christian Stuani.
In other Arsenal team news, Olivier Giroud is back in training and could be ready to make his return against Middlesbrough on Saturday.