For years now, the Arsenal faithful all over the world have looked towards every summer hoping it would be the one where the club captured the “Number 9” which we all crave. Summer after summer though, there has been disappointment to the extent where Arsenal signing this number 9 became almost a fairy tale wish. It is all part of what a number of Arsenal fans like to call the vicious cycle where at the start of the summer, there is a lot of optimism but which every passing day, the optimism gradually dilutes and eventually fades.
One interesting thing though is that even with fading optimism and the fear that always plagues us fans, the number 9 situation is one that has turn fans into a version of Goldilocks from the famous “Goldilocks and the 3 bears” where although we are all usually united in our hunger and near desperation for a striker, every one thrown up by the media is always met with a level of scepticism.
Take this summer for example, the failed swoop for Jamie Vardy was met with a sizeable amount of disbelief and apprehension with a lot of people stating things like “He has had only one good season”, “He is too old” and “He has a bad attitude”.
All these are valid points but the issue here at least in my opinion is that with the fans being starved of this new number 9 for so long, the expectation has had an equal amount of time to grow which is very understandable. Akin to when someone is fasting and in moments of weakness, looks forward to eating good food when the fast ends so do we Arsenal fans look ahead that the years without getting the striker we have wanted would be compensated with a striker so amazing that those disappointing years can seem worth it. I mean no one wants to end a long fast with an onion and to Arsenal fans nowadays, an onion is anyone other than a Lewandowski, Aubameyang, Higuain or that calibre of striker.
In light of all this, this summer seems to be different. Rather than wait for the “goldilocks” number 9 to “become available”, Arsenal have run through a list of targets over the summer and opted to swoop for and ultimately land Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna. This is, of course, the most sensible approach in my opinion as things in football are not cut and dry so having alternatives is very key and Lucas seems to have been watched as an alternative to Vardy who seems like he was the club’s first choice to fill the need.
The interesting thing about Lucas is that while his capture represents what can be termed a gamble (given age, lack of international and in fact elite club level experience amongst other things), looking at his profile, he possesses the tools to be the number 9 that can take us to a new level as Arsene Wenger says so here. His pace will be able to stretch defences and create gaps for the likes of Ozil and Alexis to weave magic, his ability to combine well and play good passes will also allow Ozil and Alexis (fingers crossed) to get in on the goalscoring act and of course the strong eye for goal he showed last season as he bagged 17 La Liga goals for a struggling Deportivo outfit.
While Lucas may not be the “Goldilocks” number 9 that checks everyone’s boxes, he may yet be our “Knight in Shining Armor” to keep with the fairy-tale theme.
Article By: Emmanuel Pius-Ogiji, @Emma_V2