After he put in another good performance in the FA Cup tie at Sutton on Monday night, the clamour for Lucas Perez to be given a run in the team increased further still, and rightly so.
In almost every game in which he has featured this season, the Spaniard has shown an excellent work ethic and a desire to get involved in the action that seems second only to that of Alexis Sanchez.
Add to that the sort of technique and touch that evokes memories of former Gunners Lucas Podolski and Robin Van Persie – with an equally thunderous shot to boot – and you begin to wonder quite why the 28-year-old has spent most of his time riding the pine this season.
A series of niggles may have had a part to play in the conundrum but, even those aside, Perez has found minutes hard to come by, with others typically preferred up front and in the wider roles.
Of course, when a team is playing badly and things generally seem a bit shit, attention will almost always turn to those players not on the pitch and the impact they could be having – the classic ‘grass is greener’ syndrome.
In Perez’s case, however, it genuinely feels as if he could be having a much greater impact on the play than some of those currently occupying starting berths at the moment, particularly with confidence as low as it is.
The likes of Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi – primarily creative players not renowned for their defensive offerings – have both seen their form dip in recent weeks and their contributions have come in for a special sort of criticism. Even his biggest fan would struggle to deny that Iwobi had a night to forget against Sutton.
Taking them out of the firing line, therefore, and giving Perez the chance to show what he is capable of seems to make sense. The former Deportivo La Coruna front man is as keen as mustard and it’s those sorts of performances that can inspire others to step up their level, feeding off the extra energy.
His end product has also caught the eye this season, with eight goals and six assists in 640 minutes of football. Flitting in and out of the starting line-up can be tough on a player’s ability to perform so it is to his credit that the £17million-man has been able to deliver even without a consistent slot in the team.
After the Sutton game, even Arsene Wenger was moved to comment on Perez’s form, conceding: “Yes, he is pushing on the door but I have many strikers. I have Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Alexis and Lucas.
“It is true that he deserves a go because he scores goals and is a good player.”
What’s been encouraging to see at Arsenal this season has been the manager’s willingness to reward good performances and good form with a run in the team, both Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs have benefited as such, so it would seem only fair that Perez is afforded a similar chance.
Has he done enough to earn a chance at Anfield on March 4? Most fans would say so, but Wenger can sometimes confound with his team selections and loyalty to certain players within the sort of system he wants to play.
There comes a time, though, when that sort of stubbornness must be set aside and, indeed, a risk taken. If we carry on in the same vein as we have in the last six weeks, there is a real chance we will take another hammering at Liverpool’s hands.
Something new is needed and Perez, with all the tenacity and power he brings, not to mention his searing left peg, may just be the catalyst for a change in fortunes. What have we to lose?