Thursday, June 1, 2023

Should This £17m Man Start For Arsenal In The Champions League?

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Aakarsh Bommakanti
Was diving around lush green grass not so long ago but my keyboard is all I have now. An avid observer of detail in sports with a passion to make myself heard. Can find me playing on a field if not in front of my screen.

After a slow start to the Premier League, picking up just a point from the first two games, London outfit Arsenal are enjoying a good run of form recently. They picked up only a point against the French champions in the first round of the Champions League group stage tie and will hope that they can get all three points from the home game against Basel tonight.

The Gunners will host the Swiss outfit, who have had more than decent success against English opponents, and will have to be at the top of their game to get all three points from this tie. One of the biggest questions to answer for Arsene Wenger, ahead of this game, is the combination of his side.

The striker’s position- to be precise – in the squad is one of great discussion among the Arsenal fans recently. The manager, after failing to land most of his top transfer targets, decided to spend £17m on in-form La Liga forward Lucas Perez but is yet to give him a start in the Premier League. The Spaniard started the game against Northampton in the League Cup last week but failed to make the starting XI against Chelsea at the weekend. Alexis Sanchez is still the preferred striking option for Arsene Wenger at the moment, as Olivier Giroud is still not fit enough to start games. This leaves the manager with one big decision to take against Basel this week.

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal - EFL Cup Third Round

Lucas was decent in the League Cup game and showed that he is capable of adapting to Wenger’s style of play. He opened his account with a cool penalty and added to it with a hard working goal later in the game and will be high on confidence at the moment. However, the manager clearly does not trust him enough to start crunch games like the derby against Chelsea and this game against Basel in the Europe’s elite competition is nothing less.

With just a point after the first game, the Gunners need a victory this week and will have to set up in their best XI to beat the Basel side. Lucas, who is still young in his career at the club, may not be the right option for Wenger to thrust into a situation like this.

The hosts need to start on the front foot, take the opportunities they get and put Basel out of the game and the manager will need his plans to work to do so. He will surely send out a first XI that can execute his plans the best way and at the moment, that side is led by Chilean international Alexis Sanchez and not Perez.

The former Barcelona star has been in fine form recently and has been used as a lone striker for Arsenal for the last few games. His movement and technique make him a perfect fit for Arsene Wenger’s side and his work rate has only made the team stronger. It is hard to see the manager chop and change his side for this crucial game and though Wenger has a fit striker in Perez, he may use Sanchez as a false-9 (or a striker that he is close to becoming) to keep his team’s combination going. Do you think Lucas Perez deserves to start the game against Basel this week?

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