Why Perez will be a rare number-nine success for Arsenal
Since Nicolas Anelka’s 17 Premier League goals in the 1998/99 season, Arsenal have had issues with their number nines.
Davor Suker scored eight times, Francis Jeffers didn’t net more than twice in either of his two top-flight campaigns, Jose Antonio Reyes’ best league campaign brought nine goals, Julio Baptista converted three chances, Eduardo struck seven goals across three seasons and Park Chu-young failed to trouble the scorers at all.
Only Lukas Podolski in the first of his three seasons at the Emirates has reached double figures wearing the number-nine jersey when contributing 11 goals in 2012/13.
So what are the prospects of new signing Lucas Perez finally ending Arsenal’s wait for a reliable number nine?
19 goals and 11 assists in 39 games for Deportivo La Coruna last season is a promising start and his style of play threatens to be a big asset for the Gunners, especially linking with Mesut Ozil.
Arsene Wenger certainly now has a reliable passing line through the midfield. Granit Xhaka recycles possession effectively from deep and has already shown against Watford that he is adept at spreading play quickly.
Santi Cazorla’s low centre of gravity and talents with both feet mean he is well suited to escaping the intentions of high-pressing opponents and opening up the pitch.
Meanwhile, Ozil created 144 chances in the Premier League last term, which was 28 more than anyone else.
This was despite regular striker Olivier Giroud arguably not playing to his strengths. The German also led the way for through passes, with Giroud not being a frontman that sits on the shoulder of the last defender looking to be set free in behind.
Perez is quick, technically good even if highly left-footed and always looking to be released in behind.
He will have Xhaka capable of picking him out over the top in the same way Leicester found success with Jamie Vardy last term and Ozil being among the best in the business and playing slide-rule passes between defenders.
The partnership of Xhaka and Cazorla is also better set to feed the ball into Ozil in the final third more frequently than if any of Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey or Mohamed Elneny started in the double midfield pivot.
Perez is 4/6 to score over 9.5 Premier League goals this season and 40/1 to secure the top flight’s Golden Boot.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.