With 10 major honours between them, ex-Arsenal duo Freddie Ljungberg and Alan Smith know a thing or two about decent players, so it’s good to hear they think Arsene Wenger has unearthed quality in the form of new singings Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez.
Both men stamped their mark on the Gunners 4-0 EFL Cup victory over Nottingham Forest last night; the Swiss breaking the deadlock with his second long-range goal in a matter of days and the Spaniard opening his Arsenal account with a clinical brace.
Reflecting on an impressive display by Lucas, Smith – once himself Arsenal’s number 9 – told Sky Sports News that he thinks the striker could now feature against Chelsea.
“That’ll do him good, it was good to see him causing damage through the middle because on his debut he was drifting into harmless areas. But that might just be a confidence thing.
“That [the two goals against Nottingham Forest] will boost his morale. I might be wrong but I think Giroud has got a knock so, although Sanchez has been playing as that false 9 and they’ve been picking up results, he’s definitely an option [to start the weekend’s game with Chelsea].
“He’s a strong boy, you saw that with the solo goal that he scored. He won’t get bullied, he’s got a bit of pace about him. I don’t think he’s Jamie Vardy-like, but he can run. He’s a contrast to what they’ve already got and that’s what they needed.
“He’s come from Deportivo and got 17 goals last season but before that he wasn’t setting the world alight. He might be a late developer. What is he? 27/28…he’s a good option for Arsene Wenger.”
Elsewhere, Freddie Ljungberg, who is currently coaching at London Colney, says Xhaka reminds him of a former teammate.
“Xhaka, I’ve seen him quite a lot and he’s very good,” he told Sky Sports News. “He’s a hard-working midfielder with a great left foot, like we had with Petit.
“I’ve heard on Lucas that he’s impressed a lot of people on the training ground.
“I think some people wanted some signings in the summer but everyone knows English clubs have a lot of money at the moment and if you ask for a player they raise the prices. He managed to get the players in the end.”