With Deadline Day looming, Ivan Perisic is rumoured to be close to joining Arsenal.
The Gunners have been desperate for new blood to inject their season with a bit of upward momentum, and Unai Emery has been vocal about their need for a winger for a while now.
A potential move for Denis Suárez remains uncertain but Perisic is a more direct alternative.
The Croatian hasn’t had the best of seasons at Inter, but is still a player of immense quality as he showed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where he was involved in eight goals as Croatia reached the final (where he scored) only to come up short against France.
So, if Perisic joins Arsenal, just how could the Gunners line-up with him in the side? How will he effect the way Arsenal are able to play?
We’ve only looked at how the midfield and attack, largely because Arsenal’s defence is a revolving door of chaos that’s too hard to predict.
It’s hard to combat a 4-3-3, it’s a lethal and balanced formation. Of course, what you need to make it work is deadly presence out wide, either in terms of goalscoring or goal creating. Arsenal have one such player in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but no one else.
Alex Iwobi is a hard-working player, but he lacks a true degree of quality when he’s not dribbling. However, Ivan Perisic is exactly the kind of dynamic presence who can score or create goals that would balance out the Francophonic phenoms.
Perisic’s ability to hold width would provide them room to move, and his playmaking skill would generate chances for Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang in particular.
With Granit Xhaka sat at the base of midfield, driving the ball forward and wide, and Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira as the shuttles providing defence and attack as needed, Arsenal would be a pulsating and devastating attacking force. The sheer volume of creativity coming off that midfield with Perisic operating as an outlet wide on the right would lead to goals galore.
Perisic’s great skill as an attacking player is balanced out by his diligence as a defender. Despite his creative prowess, the Croat is a hard-worker, and this would open up a huge possibility for Arsenal: 3-5-2.
The Gunners have occasionally used a three-man defence with wing-backs this season, but Héctor Bellerin’s injury means it’s unlikely to reappear again. But if Perisic were to be signed, then he could easily fill the Catalan’s role wide on the right of a midfield five; the chief provider of pace and thrust. Perisic has the athleticism and skill to dominate in attack and then the work rate to track back and defend.
A 3-5-2 (as opposed to a 3-4-2-1) would give Lacazette and Aubameyang more room to dovetail with each other. This added space would allow both players to maximises their skill-sets at the head of a well-structured side – and a midfield three would allow Granit Xhaka to run (well, saunter) forward and, along with Ivan Perisic, be a key creator in the final third.
Arsenal have used this diamond formation successfully before and just because Perisic is nominally a winger, doesn’t mean he can’t keep that trend moving forward.
The Croat has such a well-rounded skill-set and a proven ability to score with both feet and his head, that he could easily play in attack with Aubameyang if Emery decides to rest Lacazette (which he weirdly does sometimes).
In fact, with the way the strikers split wide in this system, Perisic may be ideally suited to play there; drifting wide into space then driving forward to take shots at goal when linking with Aaron Ramsey.
In midfield Torreira and Guendouzi provide the dynamism and defensive cover as Xhaka sits and sprays passes and the full-backs bomb on to provide width. Sead Kolasinac crossing for Perisic at the back-post could prove to be a very fruitful partnership indeed.