The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has moved to downplay the lacklustre debut of Lucas Perez, whilst claiming both he and Shkodran Mustafi aren’t fully match-fit.
The pair started their first match under the French boss at the weekend, and came away with all three points, but it was far from plain sailing.
Southampton took the lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match, but that lead lasted just over 10 minutes before stand-in skipper Laurent Koscielny could fire home. Despite dominating much of the game from this point, we needed a 94th minutes penalty to secure the three points.
Mustafi looked impressive in the second-half, but his new team-mate Perez was taken off just after the hour-mark for Olivier Giroud, and he didn’t really get into the game.
Wenger claims that neither of them appear to be fully fit, and should both be given time to settle into their new roles, although you could argue that the manager should have known if they were ready to start the game.
When asked whether Perez will score goals this season, the 66 year-old said: “I hope so. I think he got 17 goals last year. In the second half, I think he combined much better.
“It is not easy as well to start at home, the pressure is there for everybody and everybody has their eyes on them.
“You could see that especially with Mustafi, because in the second half he was much more comfortable than in the first.
“Let’s give [Lucas] time. We have scored goals since the start of the season, but we bought one more striker because we thought we needed one more let’s give him time and not judge him too quickly.”
Was there any positives you would take out of Perez’s performance? Could Mustafi be the perfect centre-back pairing for Koscielny?