Hold on to your seats. Things are about to get very VERY exciting at Arsenal.
Poor old Embers is gone. Decent chap, tried his best, blah blah blah. But when it came down to it, Unai at Arsenal was like diesel in a petrol car. The two didn’t go together and we were left sputtering by the roadside with noxious fumes leaking from our rear end.
Among the many disappointments of this season, one has been overlooked in all the psychodrama of the head coach and his inevitable ousting: the flop that is Pepe.
Do you remember how excited we were with the news Pepe was joining us from Lille?
A mercurial, gifted attacker arriving as our record signing. Reach for the popcorn, sit back and watch the magic happen… except it didn’t happen.
We’ve seen glimpses – the odd close-up card trick – but no real magic, no David Blaine makes an elephant disappear type magic. It sounds harsh, but so far Pepe really has been a flop at Arsenal.
So were we sold a pup? Is Pepe a poopoo?
Not on your nelly.
Pepe is an outstanding player who, in Ligue Un, was scoring goals at a rate of one every two games while also setting up opportunities for team mates and generally terrifying defences with his speed and skill.
So what went wrong at Arsenal? In many ways Pepe has been the main victim of Emery’s inability to get his message across to the players and to impose a settled style of football.
Emery’s inexplicably cautious approach against even the weakest teams (packing the middle of the field, passing sideways and backwards and rarely committing to fast breakaway attacks) has seen our cutting edge blunted like a rusty old saw. It has negatively impacted all our strikers, but Pepe especially.
With Emery gone, a new day is about to dawn for Nicolas Pepe. Even under our caretaker manager, Ever-Ready Freddie, I expect to see him unleashed in a way we haven’t so far seen. It certainly can’t hurt that Ljungberg’s own playing style was as a devastating wide attacker with a killer eye for goal: who better to coach the young Ivorian?
The emergence of Pepe as a real force at Arsenal and in the Premier League is going to be one of the most enjoyable stories of the second half of the season.
Bring it on.