The Nicolas Pepe (our Pepe) Show

As an attendee, and having agreed with Peaches that I would try to write something that makes sense regarding the game, here goes at 12.30am……..

As I walked from the pub, having picked up the team news as I left, a smug sense of contentment was the overriding feeling. 10 out of 11 of my earlier in the day suggestion for the starting eleven. Not bad for me! At last Dick was on the same page as many who have been on the blog in last few days!!

As the first half came to a close, I commented to the guy next to me. How can a manager select the right players, and then play enough of them out of position as to confuse all of them, and to leave one with the impression that they had only just met as a team before the kick off?!!

Willock and Torreira were playing holding central midfield, except Willock doesn’t play that role and Torreira kept passing then bombing forward and making himself unavailable for the next pass.

Maitland-Niles was playing right wing (poorly, in almost every touch). Tierney continually found himself with two wide players to mark and in the end was rarely able to mark either. Passes went continually astray, sometimes ridiculously. Every thing was slow, laboured, uninspiring. Have you ever trained together lads?

Despite having Tierney ready and able to attack and, as we know cross a delightful ball, we invariably turned in midfield and went down the right. There, Bellerin  (captain??), with no confidence going forward, was passing back or inside every time, has even forgotten what little he knew about defending and seems to want to rugby tackle/hug his opposition to a standstill.( I am also worried he has lost his pace with his injury!)

What of the opposition? Well they said, “this is our lucky day!” “We have no points and have scored no goals so far, make hay, lads!”So they scored two goals and made us look like a (poor) pub team.

In between their efforts Tierney made his one beautiful cross of the half and Martinelli proved he is a talented striker with his head again. Smith-Rowe had a goal bound shot deflected at the last, following a flowing move.

Willock and Maitland-Niles were substituted at half time and on came Ouzi and Ceballos. They were immediately man marked and not much improved initially, but slowly they and the team began to give the impression they at least wanted to win the game! Bellerin actually went to the byline and crossed for Martinelli to hit a perfect strike straight at the goalkeeper. Mustafi headed over, Holding headed into the goalkeeper’s arms. The chances were coming.

Then Pepe came on. He looked as though he had been on the sugary sweets and immediately made the opposition wet their pants with his skilful dribbling. And then we got a free kick on the right hand side of the box and Pepe bent the ball around the wall and passed a helpless goalkeeper for 2-2. Oh well, although we don’t really deserve it, a point is better than a loss! And then Ouzi drove for the box in the first minute of extra time and we got another free kick. Up stepped the “boy” of the moment and bent the ball even more spectacularly around another wall and into the top corner giving the goalkeeper no chance again.

Arsenal 3-2 Vitoria, three points; for me a completely unbelievable game, impossible to explain to anybody who didn’t witness it, that being clearly evident from these very late night ramblings. Apologies to any who saw different.

Player ratings

Martinez 6. A couple of close ish cross shots and no real chance with goals

Bellerin 4 Not very impressive at present following his long term injury.

Mustafi 6 Reasonable for him. No major errors as far as I can remember

Holding 6/7  Likewise, solid and confident generally.

Tierney 6/7 Confused defensively in.first half. Not helped much by the rest of his team. Lovely assist for Martinelli goal and much more involved in attacks in last quarter of game.

Torreira 5 Keen and energetic but Dick seems to have made him into a bit of a headless chicken

Willock 4  Felt sorry for him. Hooked again from a new position with very little support from those around him.

Smith-Rowe 4/5 Effort, but did he have a specific role that he was aware of?

Maitland-Niles 2 Nothing really worked for him. Little support for Hector on right. Flicks and ticks that irritate. Lackadaisical!

Lacazette 6 Effort throughout but nothing really fell for him.

Martinelli 8 My MOTM  Could have scored more, but energetic, determined and worthy of his place.

Subs

Ceballos 6  Usual buzzing around, without too much end product.

Ouzi 6/7 Eventually had significant influence on game with both passing and driving forward.

Pepe 7 Two wonderful strikes that obviously changed the game and will hopefully be the start of a growing confidence from the young man.

LBG

13 Responses to The Nicolas Pepe (our Pepe) Show

  1. RockyLives says:

    Been away for a few days (in Portugal, ironically) and am at the airport in Faro now.

    Didn’t see the game and then when I read LBG’s report (thanks LBG) he tells me it’s the sort of game that’s impossible to explain!

    Great to get the win, great to see Pepe bag a brace but, from this report, it doesn’t sound like the questions about UE will have diminished any.

  2. Sue says:

    Nice one, LBG (& Peaches) 👍
    Agree with your ratings!
    Pepe has arrived – better late than never, I guess!! Was out cold on the floor, after the 2nd went in 😂
    Martinelli, Pepe & Guendouzi were the positives, for me 👍👍
    Guendouzi should be Captain, if we had 11 with his work rate, desire & passion, we’d be alright!
    At the end, he gave his shirt away & hugged a fan 😍😍! He is such a sweetheart and I’m beginning to love him more & more each day!!

  3. Rasp says:

    Thanks for burning the midnight oil LBG, I was sitting a few rows behind you and saw the game in very similar terms.

    We have to be happy with the win and the points, but this game only reinforced my view that Emery needs to get a grip very quickly or he’ll be gone in the summer.

    It occurred to me that I’ve congratulated Unai many times on making substitutions that have changed our fortunes … but then I thought, hold on, if he’d sent out a more balanced team in the first half we’d probably be three up.

    Pepe scored two excellent free kicks and was electric from the moment he came on … but Guendouzi won us the game. For the second or third time I witnessed him grab hold of the game and drive forward in frustration because the majority of his teammates were playing banker passes. The late run by Guendouzi happened because when he picked the ball up at the halfway line, he at least sensed the urgency and since no one was making runs to give him a forward pass, he just kept going and won us the free kick. This lad is our future midfield playmaker. We should build the team around him.

    LB wisely observed after the game ‘how much better is Guendouzi when not playing alongside Xhaka … I totally agree.

    Even yesterday when Douzi came on, the other midfielders (Torreira and Ceballos) were often too close to him, getting in his way rather than making runs and giving him passing options.

    Apart from Pepe and Douzi, Martinelli was excellent … we have a CF who can head the ball. He never stopped running, he tackled hard, ran back to defend and pressurized their keeper when he had the ball. As a minimum he should be on the bench for every EPL game.

  4. Sue says:

    Have to say – I didn’t go a lot on Laca going down like he did! On the replays, it showed the guy hardly touched him! Don’t like that sort of thing, they’re grown men at the end of the day!!
    Fancy an ex spud opening the scoring… he just had to, didn’t he??!

  5. Thank you LBG for taking the time to write a report for us. It was a very difficult game to watch, as you say they played like a bunch of guys that had never met before.

    There was no ‘obvious’ plan and if there had been they certainly weren’t executing it.

    I was surprised at how poorly certain players performed. I’ve come to expect better from Holding whenever he’s selected and I accept that probably neither Bellerin nor Laca are match fit yet.

    The feeling amongst supporters when we left the ground was one of happiness …… there was singing en route to the station which hasn’t happened for a long time 😁😁😁

  6. LBG says:

    Dislike everything about RVP with a passion, but think he is right regarding Dick’s ability to “communicate” with his players. Of all things needed with a squad that lacks determined, gritty, self motivated professionals ( like Freddie for instance), expressing clear and understandable tactics is paramount.
    Too many players young and old, not focused on the pitch at present.

  7. LB says:

    A well balanced write up LBG, thanks for making the effort.

    I was surprised by the tone of some of the comments after the game, focusing on what didn’t work rather than what did work; we won with the last kick of the game, it was thrilling and thrilling wins should be enjoyed with singing to the station rightly justified.

  8. Aaron says:

    LBG, a fair assessment of a now typical led Emery game.

    Play many players out of their normal positions-does he he even know what they are? I think not.

    Emery is lost, it is easy to see, and all he did was sub people into the exact positions he pulled them from which is putting square pegs in round holes.

    Bel looks way of the pace, Hold and Tierney will need time, but Emery does not have much left.

    If he plays Kola, Sok, Guen, Luiz together with Xhaka his grave is as good as fixed.

    If Palace score first, it will be hard to watch.

  9. LB says:

    There is a post in drafts for tomorrow if you need it.

  10. RockyLives says:

    Looking forward to that LB.

  11. GooneB says:

    Thanks LBG, I tend to largely agree with your feelings on the game.

    The were positives seen last night in the potential that we have within the squad and in many of our youngsters. This talent needs to be nurtured and developed in the right environment. Douzi, Martinelli and ESR all looked good.

    The result is ultimately important but there still needs to be a feel that we are heading in the right direction in terms of developing a good style of football which will see performances improve and ultimately win games in a more dominant fashion rather than by the skin of our teeth, which we will not sustain.

    I agree with Rasp that right now Emery has a fair bit to do to convince he is the right man to nurture the talent in this squad, and that he has the caliber to be a top level manager.

  12. Morning all

    We have a New Post ………..

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