Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s 72million record signing has always been in the news since his move to the Emirates and not always for his on the pitch brilliance. At several times during his short career thus far at Arsenal, his three managers have made reference to his work rate and expectation to perform with Unai Emery stating he was not keen on the Ivorian’s arrival at the club
“He’s a good player but we didn’t know his character and he needs time, patience. I favoured someone who knew the league and wouldn’t need to adapt. “Zaha won games on his own: Tottenham, Manchester City, us. Incredible performances. I told them: ‘This is the player I know and want.’
“I met Zaha and he wanted to come. The club decided Pepe was one for the future. I said: ‘Yes, but we need to win now and this lad wins games’. He beat us on his own.
After failing to get starts or even game time under interim manager, Freddie Ljungberg, the coach stated
“Pepe is a very good player But I looked at what we did in training and what I see every day and that is how I judge it.”
Pepe has been explosive in several games for Arsenal and dazzled fans with his dribbles and goals from free-kicks, however, his reluctance to make easy passes or protect the defence has placed him at odds with several managers especially Mikel Arteta who prefers structure to individual brilliance. Speaking on the issue, Arteta stated his need for Pepe to evoke fear in opponents
“It is clear that [Pepe’s] consistency has not been at the level that he can produce, he is the first one to accept that, that’s what I’m going to demand from a player of his level, calibre,”
“He has to be producing every three days at the level that he can be. He has to be a player that makes the difference, that is a threat, generates fear in the opponents and gives us a big threat in the final third and his work-rate has to be related as well with that kind of performance.
Pepe has played 32 games this season for Arsenal scoring six goals and providing eight assists. A fair performance for a young player still trying to acclimatize to the league. However, Arteta stated he demands more from the player which is expected given his abundance of talent and signing fee
“It’s taking those flash moments into a consistent mode and that for a creative wide player to do it is a big task so every detail has to be [right] because it makes huge difference and his mentality as well.
“His mindset has to be all the time like that. He needs to win the game for the team and he is one of the players that we have in the squad that has to do it and take that responsibility.”
With Arsenal struggling to get back into the champions league positions, Pepe’s form would be integral to any progress the Gunners have to make, starting with the game against Brighton this weekend.