Arsenal forward Lucas Perez proved he can lead the line ahead of Alexis Sanchez after scoring twice in the English League Cup win over Nottingham Forest, according to former striker Alan Smith.
The Spaniard marked just his second appearance for the Gunners since his summer move from Deportivo La Coruna with a brace to guide his team into the fourth round at the expense of their Championship opponents.
With Olivier Giroud having fallen out of favour with Arsene Wenger; now suffering from a toe injury, Sanchez has been called upon to spearhead the attack in an unaccustomed central position. Though the Chile international has impressed with three goals and two assists so far this term, he is better suited to a wide role currently occupied by Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi.
But Smith – who scored 115 goals across eight seasons with Arsenal between 1987 and 1995 – believes Perez has done enough to deserve a lone berth in attack instead of Sanchez, which would allow the former Barcelona man to move to a better-suited position. Perez netted from the spot before a fine individual goal at the City Ground and Smith wants to see the £17m summer signing, according to The Guardian, given more responsibility.
"It was good to see him do well and it was good to see him causing damage through the middle," the ex-Arsenal striker told Sky Sports. "On his debut he was drifting into the harmless areas but that might have been a confidence thing. The goals will certainly boost his morale. [Alexis] Sanchez has been playing as a false nine, so Perez definitely gives them another option.
"He's a strong boy, you saw that with the solo goal he scored. He won't get bullied and he's got a bit of pace about him. It's a contrast to what they had already and that's what they needed. He might be a late developer but he's a good option for Arsene Wenger."
Perez had initially made an inauspicious start to his Arsenal career after failing to open his account for his new club in the win over Southampton – before being handed a two-minute cameo at Hull City. However, Wenger could now reward the 28-year-old for his mid-week exploits with a start against rivals Chelsea in the London derby this weekend.