Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Perez happy to be finding his feet at Arsenal

Lucas Perez feels "really comfortable" at Arsenal as the Spanish forward looks to help drive the team on to a positive end to the season.

Perez took his tally for the Gunners to seven with the opening goal in the 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round win at Sutton on Monday night.

The start at Gander Green Lane was, however, just his ninth in all competitions.

Perez's representative has played down suggestions the forward - signed for £17million from Deportivo La Coruna at the end of August - may consider his long-term future in the summer.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accepts Perez is now very much "pushing on the door" for a regular starting place, with the 28-year-old having settled into London life.

Perez said in an interview with Arsenal Player: "It was still quite a change for me to get used to the English league when I moved here from Spain. Everyone needs some time to adjust.

"Players are all different, so some take longer to adapt than others.

"Now I feel really comfortable and I've fitted in well to the team - that's particularly important for a player."

Arsenal do not play again until March 4 when they head to Liverpool, with the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash against Bayern Munich following three days later. That tie is all but over following the Gunners' 5-1 humiliation in Germany.

The FA Cup quarter-final against non-league Lincoln is also on the horizon.

Centre-back Laurent Koscielny is expected to resume training following a hamstring injury which forced him off in Munich, while winger Alex Iwobi should also be in contention, despite taking a heavy knock to his foot after being on the end of a hefty challenge from Sutton captain Jamie Collins.

Mohamed Elneny, just back from international duty with Egypt at the African Nations Cup, is to be assessed on an ankle problem picked up on Monday evening .

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey could return to the squad for the Anfield trip, having been out since the home defeat by Watford on January 31 because of a calf problem.

With no match to prepare for this weekend, as scheduled opponents Southampton take on Manchester United in the EFL Cup final at Wembley, Wenger gave some of the squad extra time off.

Mesut Ozil did not feature in the squad at Sutton, with the playmaker having spent some time back in Germany, but he is not anticipated to be a fitness doubt for the Liverpool match.

Wenger saw speculation mount over his future past the end of this season in the wake of the defeat at Bayern.

The 67-year-old has said he will make a decision over whether to stay on within the next couple of months.

Former Arsenal midfielder Liam Brady, who also worked as the club's academy director until retiring in May 2014, feels the veteran French coach has become "a victim of his own success" in seeing the demands of the team continue to increase.

"Lots of fans have been brought up on the team he created. [Patrick] Vieira and [Emmanuel] Petit and they are craving those days again, but it's easier said than done. Be careful what you wish for," Brady said on Eamon Dunphy's Stand podcast.

"We competed maybe twice in the old European Cup, once under George Graham and once under Bertie Mee. He (Wenger) is a victim of his own success really.

"You have to look at the financial clout of the clubs he's competing against."

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Brady made more than 300 appearances for the Gunners between 1971 and 1980, winning the FA Cup before leaving to join Italian giants Juventus.

He added: "In those [early] days, he wasn't competing against a Chelsea with [Roman] Abramovich or a Man City with Abu Dhabi money. Even Tottenham were a poor shadow of what they are now. Liverpool have invested a lot of money. Man United are a money machine.

"To keep the team consistently in the last 10 years in the top four, without having the money to spend... I know he's spent money, but nothing compared to the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Man United have been able to afford, I think you have to take all that into consideration."

Brady continued: "He is like the CEO (chief executive) of a big business and he has delivered year-in year-out as regards to the results the owners are looking for."

"Arsene Wenger is in a position himself where he has to reflect on what he wants to do and I'm sure he's going to do that over the next few weeks.

"Some serious discussions are going to have to go on between Arsene and the principal owner Stan Kroenke and they've got to work it out between them whether Arsene is going to go on managing this club."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph