The Giroud:Perez Axis


Lucas Perez…The Forgotten Man.

It seems oddly fitting that Lucas Perez keeps slipping from our consciousness. He arrived with much fanfare and speculation. The season started. And then we waited to see our first proper sighting of Perez. And waited. And waited.

When we eventually did see him start, it was in games of lesser consequence. And then. Finally. He arrived. He a proper start. More than that…he played well.

Then he got injured. Rinse and repeat.

It seems oddly fitting that Lucas Perez keeps slipping from our consciousness because his background story would do Jason Bourne proud…

Goes off the grid or into exile. Or both. Bumping around the lower leagues in Spain before loan stints with two Ukrainian clubs followed by a move to Greece on a 3-year contract at PAOK FC.

He described the end of his Ukrainian Odyssey as a “nightmare.” Greece was better for Lucas, and after just a year there he got the call to “come in from the cold” ie come home to Langley, Virginia Deportivo La Coruna, his hometown club, which had just been promoted to La Liga, and was going to try to stay there. Now he had a La Liga club berth AND a mission. He played his first match for Deportivo, scored, and was immediately injured. Then was out till the following January. That has a familiar ring to it.

But in his first of two seasons at Deportivo, he played a vital role for them, scoring in a relegation decider to keep La Coruna up, in the first season. And in the second season, leading Deportivo to a vital 2-2 draw away to the new Champions, Barcelona, at the Camp Nou – that game we all saw highlights from, where Perez single-handedly dragged his team to a result, doing everything from scoring, mammoth defensive work, bullying the opposition and his own players, and motherfucking Lionel Messi up one side and down the other to make him miss a peno…which he did. He saved his club. If you can ever WILL your team to victory, that was it in the flesh. He was thoroughly obnoxious. So much so, Barcelona did their best to sign him ahead of us.

He sounds like a guy you want on your side when you’re going down the stretch of your season. Or playing Chelsea.

Let me make my position clear. I love Lucas Perez. Based on the little we have seen, and what you can learn about the guy’s Bourne-esque past.

Perez has something no other Arsenal player but perhaps Sanchez has. He’s hardened, tempered steel.

“The term hardened-steel is often used for a medium or high carbon steel that has been heat-treated and then quenched followed by tempering, resulting in the formation of metastable martensite, the fraction of which is reduced to the desired amount during tempering.

The same effect can be achieved by surviving the descent into the Spanish Third League, getting screwed over in the Ukrainian League, fighting your way out of the Greek League and twice dragging your hometown club over the line to safety in La Liga.”

He’s like a pitbull over a bone. The lad has barely played for us – 7 starts and 6 from the bench in all comps (in the PL he has 2 starts and 5 from the bench) yet has 6 goals and 4 assists.

lucas-perez-afc-career

He had a bunch of soft tap-ins in the CC and Basel game but…he knows how to get to the 6 yard box before the defender, and that equals goals.

And we’ve seen him put in excruciatingly ripe crosses along the 6 yard box line that begged to be tapped home…and weren’t.

Lucas Perez reminds me of my dog. Now, if you think that’s an insult then… I just don’t think you understand. You see…

I’ve got the best dog around, I just don’t think you understand.

He’s nicer then yer Mom, He’s better than Atom,

I’ve got the best dog around.

“Tell me the ways in which Lucas Perez is like your dog, Poz.”

Let me explain further…When I am in the kitchen, hacking away at a turkey, or a chicken, or really anything of a meat denomination, my dog goes full Perez, watching every move or twitch, anticipating where I might just possibly drop that scrap of turkey, or as my dog calls it, a knock-down. He also describes my hold-up play as crude but effective.

And so it is with Perez and Giroud. Perez reads every move Giroud makes with the same lazer-focus and touch of clairvoyance that you see between a sheep herder and his collie. The man-dog interface aka The Giroud:Perez axis. Perez is fully zoned in on the scraps off Giroud’s kitchen table. He gives us a second striker when the opposition parks the bus, and his movement and runs on the counter and in more open play creates new possibilities. He’s got quick feet, tight control, he’s physical, aggressive, clever, and he don’t take no shit.

It changes the Sanchez vs Giroud debate dramatically in my mind. It’s now the Sanchez vs Giroud/Perez debate.

When people place Sanchez and Giroud on the blind scales of footballing justice to weigh their prospective value at Center Forward, they may find a new weight added to the Giroud pan. That of Senor Perez. It’s a package, if the manager sees what I see. They should also weigh up the effect of our new midfield pairing. With Ramsey now on hand from the right side of midfield to bomb into the box, will that work better with Giroud there or with Sanchez acting as a false nine?

In just the last few games we have seen Giroud do his “flick over the defence” trick for Perez to catch a sweet volley that got us going in our Bournemouth comeback.

The goal is set up by Giroud working the ball wide to Sanchez who rolls it back to Xhaka, Xhaka bangs it into Giroud, perfect flick, perfect volley. The comeback is in full swing.

perez-volley

And then the pièce de résistance – The winner against Preston – a long ball into the box from Ramsey to Giroud’s noggin, the knockdown that Perez anticipates, the classy, tricky backheel from Perez perfectly into Giroud’s path, which he then bundles into the goal. Another comeback.

Some have said that Giroud up top doesn’t lead to exciting football. They are right for the most part. But that was before Perez, who didn’t start the Bournemouth game. He came on before the comeback  started and then we saw some pretty exciting football.

Sanchez-Giroud-Perez
Ozil
Ramsey and Xhaka

will be an interesting line-up to see. Effective? Exciting? Time will hopefully tell us, and soon.

The Preston game was without Sanchez or Ozil. So we don’t really know too much yet. Perhaps the Giroud-Perez axis will free up Sanchez to cause trouble in his own mode. Ramsey may profit from the Giroud-Perez orbit.

Giroud, Perez, Ramsey seem to be finding ways to combine to great effect, based on our small sample size. Evidence can be seen in all the goals of the last two matches, if you look close enough.

The Sanchez vs Giroud debate is set to rage on, but Giroud+Perez makes that a much more interesting and exciting comparison for my money.

Tough choice. Over to you Mr. Wenger.