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Lucas Perez at Arsenal: How Arsene Wenger will use the speedy Spaniard

Arsenal's new striker Lucas Perez could make his debut this Saturday at home to Southampton, but it's still unclear how Arsene Wenger will use his latest acquisition.

The speedy Spaniard gives Wenger plenty of options for how he wants to line up this season, and it remains to be seen if Lucas will alternate with Olivier Giroud up front or if there can be room for both.

Wenger has said he views Lucas as a central striker, but the 27-year-old has spent much of his career on the wing and can be deployed anywhere across the front four.

Here's a look at three different ways Arsenal could play with Lucas on the pitch.

The lone striker

Simply swapping Giroud for Lucas up front is perhaps the most likely option. The Spaniard offers much more pace than Giroud and his ability to drive at defenders outside the box should make the Arsenal attack more dynamic. With Alexis Sanchez on one wing and Theo Walcott or Alex Iwobi on the other, it would also allow all three forwards to swap positions during the game to make them less predictable. Arsenal's wingers already routinely switch flanks intermittently, but Giroud doesn't have the capacity to operate out wide.

It also gives Wenger the ability to choose a striker that fits the opposition, with Giroud's hold-up play and strength in the air probably preferred in some games.

Back on the wing

Since Wenger remains a big fan of Giroud, he could try to make room for both forwards. The easiest option, then, is to deploy Lucas on the wing at the expense of Walcott and letting him operate in a free-roaming role opposite Sanchez on the other flank. Lucas has similar pace to Walcott but is a better dribbler and finisher, and could perhaps be a more dangerous target for Mesut Ozil's passes.

This option would allow Wenger to keep using Giroud's main strengths as a target man up front, but would condemn the likes of Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to more time on the bench.

Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud has competition in attack at Arsenal following Lucas Perez's arrival.

Two up front

Seeing Giroud link up so well with Antoine Griezmann at Euro 2016 has led to some calls for Wenger to switch systems and play with two strikers up front in order to get the best out of the French forward. If that's in his plans, Lucas could certainly play the part of Griezmann for Arsenal.

It's easy to see how Giroud and Lucas could play off each other's strengths to form an effective partnership that could pose plenty of trouble for defenders.

However, it's hard to see Wenger ditching his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation for some sort of 4-4-2, unless he thinks fellow newcomer Granit Xhaka can form the base of a diamond midfield. But the option is certainly tempting, and could well be seen this season if Arsenal find themselves a goal down late in the game.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.


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