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Why Southampton must bid for Arsenal fringe forward in January window

COMMENT By Matt Farr

Southampton were a dealt a major blow in their 1-o victory over Middesbrough on Saturday, as star striker Charlie Austin suffered a shoulder injury.

The 27-year-old is now set to miss up to four months as he undergoes surgery, meaning the Saints will be without their premier goalscorer and most-prized asset.

Austin has scored nine goals from 19 appearances in all competitions this season, but manager Claude Puel must now consider his options in terms of a replacement.

He has Jay Rodriguez at his disposal once again, following his return from injury, while Republic of Ireland international Shane Long is also a candidate.

However, another player worthy of note is Arsenal’s Lucas Perez. The Spanish striker only joined the Gunners in the summer, but Arsene Wenger could be willing to let him leave on loan in January.

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Arsenal’s £17 million summer signing has found first-team opportunities hard to come by in light of the superb start Alexis Sanchez has made to the new season.

The Chile international has already contributed 13 goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season, and is un-droppable in the eyes of Arsenal fans, as well as manager Arsene Wenger.

Perez has had a few opportunities to impress over the course of the season, but mainly in European and cup competitions. He has just three Premier League appearances to date.

The 28-year-old starred for the Gunners in their 4-1 victory over Basel in the Champions League last week, netting a superb hat-trick; his six goals and four assists from nine games suggests that he is more than capable of providing the goods.

But with Sanchez in this form, it’s hard to see how Perez can play a regular role. He’s a useful asset to have in the squad, particularly with Danny Welbeck out injured; but provided Wenger doesn’t lose another forward to injury, a loan move until the end of the season would surely do him no harm.

In Perez, Southampton would get themselves a hard-working striker, a potent goalscorer and sizeable figure – something they will be lacking in the absence of Austin.

In other Arsenal news, this is the expected Arsenal XI to face Everton on Tuesday.