After being ridiculed and questioning a lot throughout the campaign, Arsenal have finally been able to secure a signing in a key area of the pitch. The club have met the release clause of Deportivo La Coruna striker Lucas Perez, who has joined Arsenal for a fee of £17.1 million. This is not a transfer that will make headlines similar to Alexis Sanchez’ move two years ago. However, Perez has the ability to be the final piece in the jigsaw.
One of the primary disadvantages of Arsenal last season was the lack of a proper replacement for Olivier Giroud. Now that Perez is available for the selection, it presents Wenger with a dilemma about the formation. In English football and even more in European football, 4-4-2 is considered as an obsolete formation. Many managers believe that the formation robs a team of defensive solidarity and strength. This opinion has largely led to a lone striker doing all the work up front, but the availability of Perez presents Wenger with the option to go back to a 4-4-2.
After all, this was the formation that was key for the iconic Invincibles. Going through an entire Premier League campaign without a defeat is probably an achievement that will never be matched again and it was done with a 4-4-2 formation. Even though both Giroud and Perez are both left footed, the formation can be tweaked to use both players at the same time.
Any formation has its disadvantages, and in the case of the 4-4-2 formation, it is the ability to defend in great numbers. The 4-5-1 formation allows a manager to pack the midfield thereby making it difficult for the opposition to pass through. However, Leicester City showed last season that even 4-4-2 can be set up defensively with two banks of four. On a positive note, the two strikers up front can make it difficult for the opposition to push excessively.
Wenger can utilise Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez on the wings with Francis Coquelin and summer signing Granit Xhaka in the central midfield. This will be an extremely fluid formation since Coquelin can just do the job of protecting the back four and allowing the rest of the players to go forward. The formation can also be switched to a 4-5-1 since Perez can play on the wings.
It is a no-brainer for Arsenal to return to the 4-4-2 formation with Perez in the squad.