Pepe to wing it for Arsenal

We have been renowned as a predominantly attacking club ever since the start of the Wenger era, but over the last few years we have arguably seriously overlooked one area of our attacking department within the squad.

Earlier Wenger teams seemed to be bolstered by high quality, attacking, goal-scoring, pacey wide players, but for the last number of years this position has seemingly been overlooked at Arsenal to the point it almost appeared as if it was deemed non important to us in the modern era. However, a good look around at the other top sides seemed to highlight that all other clubs deemed these positions to be of high importance, and most often set up with these players in a 4-3-3 system, or a close variation on this.

Fingers are currently crossed throughout goonerdom that Pepe will be the new man to wing it for Arsenal.

The modern wide player seems to be something between a winger and a wing forward that operate either side of a lead striker most often, with the majority of the top clubs, in a rotating front 3 sharing goal-scoring responsibility. These wing forward players also give the attacking width that can stretch the opposition without relying solely on the full-backs for width, so arguably also provide extra problems for the opposition in wide areas, with the wing forward and the overlapping full-back combining during the game.

Another factor in having specialised attacking wide players is that the full-backs don’t need to be permanently camped high up the pitch, and can therefore choose the right moments to get forward and join the attack, thus ensuring they are still, for the most part, covering their defensive responsibilities as part of the back 4.

I feel we have suffered a fair bit at times in not having these players in recent years, preventing us from being able to deploy a more balanced, but still attack orientated, formation. It is why I am excited this forthcoming season by the prospect of young players like Saka and Nelson coming into the first team environment and giving us something I feel we have missed for many years. If we were also to add one more top established attacking wide player, like Zaha or Pepe, to this then my legs will start to literally quiver in anticipated excitement.

One big question though is how should these wing forward players be deployed? Which particular player should line up on which side? Here are a few comments from yours truly, Fred, and LBG to get the thought process going.

Fred says:

Yea Nelson hasn’t impressed at all with Eddie I actually think je should be playing on the left on the 433 to start the season, I know it isn’t his natural position but he is a rich vain of form

GoonerB says (in response):

Fred, I had always assumed that Nelsons natural position was on the left side of the striker. I have still to watch the last 3 games which I have got recorded. Does this mean that Nelson has been operating from the right side? I seem to recall that most of the decent footage you see of him when he has done something in games, either in our academy matches or last seasons loan, seem to show him operating from the left. Either way Fred, I would agree with you that Reiss Nelson is a left inside forward predominantly, and should be utilised this way.

LBG says (in response):

Nelson is a left sided wide attacker, but as is customary left sided players nowadays are often used on the right and cut in to hit shots with their left foot. I personally want wide players to go round the fullback and cross from the byline, like olden times.

GoonerB says:

Wilf would really take up the position of Nelson while Pepe would take up the position of Saka but as I say pepe looks like he could move in centrally behind a single number 9 as well which may give us the better balance and also squad options.

Fred says (in response):

Think u got that wrong Saka plays on left and Nelson on right

So with the inside forwards, or wide attacking players, (or whichever other description you prefer), it would seem the jury is out as how to best deploy them. Academy players that are still developing should arguably spend time playing in 2-3 positions to develop their all round understanding, but I would suggest that once a player starts to become more of a first team regular that they should have a preferred specialist position (or side) where most of their play takes place.

Both Nelson and Saka, at their still tender ages, seem to have played both sides at different times, if you watch any footage of them. Maybe to date Saka has had more time on the left and Nelson on the right, but as a left footer and right footer, respectively, I would suggest it is now time to deploy Saka from the right and Nelson from the left if they are to become top class prolific goal scoring pacey winger / wing forward type players.

Why do I say this? Well if you were to make a list of all recent (maybe last 10 years) top level attacking wide players, at the top clubs, it is nearly always right footed players on the left and left footed players on the right. However I would love to hear your thoughts on this AA’ers.




32 Responses to Pepe to wing it for Arsenal

  1. Sue says:

    Saw a picture of Pepe at an airport, now there’s talk of his medical taking place today…. if this does happen, just imagine how devastating our attack will be – as he scored the same amount as Auba last season 👊
    I’m gutted about 2 things today – so I’ve just finished the final season of Orange is the new Black… devastated there’ll be no more Litchfield 😭😭😭 plus… I just saw that Zaha is eyeing up a move to the spuds!!! Noooooo! He can’t go there, or for me, it’ll be a case of Wilf who?? 😀
    Nice article btw, GB..

  2. Lee says:

    Ive been getting really frustrated with the “why buy an attacker” chorus from the media and some fans.

    while we do need an upgrade its also been clear for a long time with the team structure we can make good CB look bang average.

    To improve the structure and migrate to Emerys style of play we need wingers (wide attackers) as said above this will take the strain of the full back and allow us some structure.

    I hope at least

  3. Rasp says:

    Welcome Lee, good comment.

    The post was written by GoonerB about the need for proper wide players, but obviously a lot of supporters will be concentrating on the Pepe story. Thanks for reading beyond the headline.

  4. fatgingergooner says:


    Totally agree about the need to improve our forward play. Everyone knows about our defensive issues, but our attacking midfielders were just as poor in their performance last season, but because their errors don’t cost goals it doesn’t get highlighted in the same way. Only Ramsey really impressed and the collective stats and level of performance of Iwobi, Özil, Mkhitaryan was pretty average. If it wasn’t for the 2 dynamic centre forwards, last year could’ve been a complete disaster!

    We really need someone who can run at defenders and cause problems to give other players more space and I think Pepe could be the man to do it (Zaha would’ve been just as good).

  5. RC78 says:

    Pepe joining us is really great – he s a special talent and is only 24 so he can further develop. He really is one of the most improved players in the last 3 years in France with Mbappe and Ndombele. He is expensive and I hope he justifies his price tag but am confident and I think he will make the opposition play deeper, which is very good for Emery s style. Our front 3 is not the best maybe in the league but it is in the top 4 for sure. Pepe would need to just be better at defending but going forward, we have a quality player.

    A) Pepe, Laca, Auba B) RN, Nketiah, Iwobi

    I think that the club should also consider getting a player like Pavoletti or Llorente just to add more aerial threat. We are then covered for options.

  6. fred1266 says:

    RC78 make the opposition play deeper don’t they already play that way against us and we seem to struggle with

  7. fred1266 says:

    Iwobi think you meant Saka mate

  8. fred1266 says:

    out players can’t really cross so Aerial threat probably not necessary

  9. fred1266 says:

    Gueye gone PSG

  10. allezkev says:

    Nice post GB…

    Seems as if we could also see a few out of the door over the next few days, Bielik (£10m mooted for him), Kozzer of course but this deal can run beyond our domestic August 8th deadline as he’ll be going abroad and of course Mustafi likewise if a replacement can be put in place – links to a loan away for Mavropanos also but that would leave us worryingly light at centre back even if a back four is the Emery aim for the forthcoming campaign?

  11. RC78 says:

    Fred –

    1) Emery likes to get the ball back deep in the opposition’s half so that is a plus if they play deeper due to their fear of our attackers’ pace. We struggle against team that park the bus indeed, hence the need for adding an aerial threat (Llorente is free and Pavoletti is available for less than 12 Mln EUR)

    2) Iwobi is playing LW for us and I think he ll get more time than Saka

    6) Gueye to PSG for 27 Mln pounds – not sure why Arsenal did not line him up but in any case, am happy that he is joining my home team

    6) PSG still trying to get rid of Neymar and the idea for them is to 100 Mln + Semedo, Sergi Roberto and Dembele (or Coutinho but they prefer Dembele)

    Extra for you:

    Areola – Semedo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Bernat – Verratti, Gueye, Herrera – Mbappe, Cavani, Dembele

    ? – Meunier, Dagba, Kehrer, Diallo, Sergi Roberto – Draxler, Paredes, Di Maria – Sarabia – Choupo Mouting, Zagre

    Given the above, I can see PSG try to lure another striker…

  12. fred1266 says:

    I actually hope Neymar doesn’t go cause i actually want to see a PSG game this year and that might be the only time i get to see Neymar play

  13. Sue says:

    Auba & Laca’s tweets… plus seeing pictures of Pepe at London Colney (what was in that Arsenal bag, I wonder!!) Omg… just announce it! 🙊

  14. fred1266 says:

    i smell Lemar all over again lol

  15. fred1266 says:

    Sue you really need to learn how to share tweets instead of having me go looking so i can know what you a talking about

  16. Sue says:

    Fred.. they’re asking where are you & their ‘salute’ looks just like Pepe’s celebration (after scoring!) Hope that helps, Fred 😂😂

  17. Mike M says:

    Interesting post Gooner B. hadn’t really thought about it that way but I’m sure you’re right. Not so hard to remember the pain of constantly watching Theo trying to play from the right wing and a) not being able to go outside because he couldn’t beat a man, or on the rare occasions he did, shank his cross, or b) cut inside, then play a short ball backwards because he couldn’t use his left. Oh those were the days !!
    This kid looks like the real deal and I’m excited !!
    On another note, finally heard an intelligent comment from the bitter plonker that is Stuart Robson. He posed the question, with Auba, Laca and Pepe, what happens to Ozil and Miki? Are they in UE’s plans? Food for thought !!

  18. LBG says:

    RC cant believe you think we need another forward ( aeriel or not). Eddie + many other youthful attackers available. And as for Llorente, second rate rubbish!

  19. LBG says:

    Mike M
    No intelligent comment from Robson will ever make up for him being a bitter twat.
    Sell Micki is the answer. Mesut is due for a rejuvenated season!

  20. fred1266 says:

    we play 4231 so mesut can be the man supplying the front 3, Mkhitaryan can be mesut backup

  21. Mike M says:

    Good read regarding Pepe. Looks increasingly like we may get him. Here’s still hoping.

  22. RC78 says:

    LBG – I think we scored the least from headers last year and I felt like we clearly missed an aerial presence at both ends. Pavoletti and Llorente are very cheap options that can add to our game. It would also offer us another game plan if we are stuck against the Stoke of the EPL…

  23. RC78 says:

    LBG – I d also rather see us sell Ozil than Mikhy. I think Mikhy fits Emery team better.

  24. fred1266 says:

    RC even when we had giroud we were still horrible at headers think we hardly cross an when we do it usually horrible

  25. RC78 says:

    Fred – Will Emery line up in 4321 or 4231 or a classic 433?

    I think he ll go for a form of the 4321 with a double-pivot in the middle supporting a CM:

    DM-B2B + CM – FWR, FWL – ST

    Xhaka, Torreira – Ceballos – Pepe, Auba – Laca
    Chambers, Guendouzi – Mkhy or Willock or Ozil – RN, Iwobi – Nketiah

    and that does beg the question,
    – does Emery want to keep Ozil and/or Mkhy?
    – is AMN going to be used again as a FB although he would be much better positioned higher up the pitch?

    For me, the biggest worry is that Xhaka would still play as DM so if we can somehow get rid of him, I d be delighted.

    Leno – Bello, Sok, Holding, Kola – Xhaka, Torreira – Ceballos – Pepe, Auba – Laca

    is the most likely starting line up with the current squad for Emery

    I d rather play: Leno – Bello, Sok, Holding, Kola – AMN, Chambers, Torreira – Pepe, Auba, Laca

  26. RC78 says:

    Fred – our crossing is indeed terrible…

  27. Sue says:

    Looks like Bielik is going to Derby, 10m

  28. Mike M says:

    Been watching some of Pepe. God I hope we get him. Seen some pics of him in the shirt very much in the same situation as Ceballos, looked a lot like the official photographer. I guess it could be photo shopped.
    Anyway without jinxing it, I notice he usually wears #19. It would be so poetic if he wore that for us in honour of probably our best player in the latter Wenger years. If he’s half as good as his predecessor, it will be mouthwatering !!!
    Signed – a 6 year old !!!!! No shame either !!!!

  29. fred1266 says:

    RC i think he will do a 4231 because of mesut, even in the Lyon game when Xhaka, Guendouzi and Willock played you saw Willock really advance of the other 2

  30. fred1266 says:

    mike i think it done just so it on a football size and they only do news when it official boom

  31. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post …

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