Pepe Rises

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.





36 Responses to Pepe Rises

  1. chris says:

    And I tell you what ….. Emery did not buy him. Senior management did ! £72m and a few weeks later – after he has been a damp squib – we are told Pepe is not at the level we need …. !! There has been a power struggle back stage and it may well be that the wrong people (or person) have emerged at the top.

  2. Thank you Rocky for the post.

    In all the drama of not winning in seven games (and playing an unrecognisable brand of football) I had forgotten that our young Ivorian had been largely overlooked.

    I don’t want to lay any blame now as we’re entering (hopefully 😉) a new dawn.

    Players need to know who to give the ball to to make something happen. Ozil is our man for that and we need to see that organised forward play …… Ozil to Pepe, Ozil to Auba forward, forward, forward.

    I remember sitting with a great guy when Arshavin joined us, this guy had a huge booming voice and spent the whole game booming out ‘give the ball to Arshavin’ because he was magic. We have more than one magic player now …… I’m looking forward to singing Freddie’s name and watching some magic football again.

  3. RockyLives says:

    Not related to Pepe (or at least not directly) but this comment from GiE at the end of yesterday’s Post deserves to be seen more widely…

    I was in Londinium yesterday and read the Evening Standard for the first time in a long while, there seems to be quite a lot coming out about what was going on at the club, especially at the training ground and they also drew comparisons with other managers who had communication issues in their first season, whilst Emery statement is PR heavy some of the comments in the papers paint a different story:

    1) Emery rarely said hello or knew the names of support staff around the training ground he even got the name of his interpreter wrong after 6 months when he thanked him after an interview
    2) players openly mocked his English
    3) players joking on a plane about how many captains they had (whilst trying to appease the squad he affectively showed a lack of leadership at the same time)
    4) failed to get his point across during “interminably long” video sessions – comparison here with Poch who spent a season at Saints and Spuds before speaking English fluently to press yet his teams showed a clear understanding of what was required.
    5) insisted on Dennis Suarez signing on loan.

    So he lost control, couldn’t communicate, didn’t get best from players.

    There are a few other points I would like to highlight some he was lauded for when he first arrived:

    1) Half time substitutions, when he first arrived this was seen as an indication of being prepared to change and better than on 60 minute subs that AW was much criticised for. However in time it became clear that this felt more like a manager unable to pick the right starting XI and made more subs at half time than any other manager.

    2) being a lunatic on the sideline, can we all now agree this is a riduliculous measure of passion and ability as a manager. If you are having to gesture and rearrange as much as that during the game then you didn’t get your message across during the training, and if you can’t communicate in English what the hell was the point in the first place?

    These things were judged highly by the fans and welcomed just because it was different to what we had become used to, but both were ultimately unimportant and masked serious failings elsewhere from about Jan/Feb 2019.

    I was absent from here for a while partly for work and partly because I struggled to be positive about the way the team were being managed

  4. RC78 says:

    I share your optimism for Pepe and thanks for the post.

    Pepe is a gifted player and a new coach will givd him a new impetus and chance. Pepe was wanted by all European teams even Liverpool and Bayern so it s only a matter of time before things click for him in the EPl.

    In the Ligue 1, he played across the front line and he can do the same in the EPl. Put Saka on the other wing and play Laca and Auba in the middle in a 4411 set up and let s see what happens. Our double pivot would need to be solid but it could work…

  5. RockyLives says:

    As someone who follows French footy more than most of us, can you give us more of an indication of his strengths and how he played in Ligue Un and how he was perceived in France?

  6. VP of Oz says:

    Bean eat is please

  7. RA says:

    Umm — It seems that the delectable Peaches and the less delectable Rocket are losing their respective marbles.

    If I read GIE’s also delectable comment once more in addition to peaches thanking the said Rocket for his New Post I will probably have to go lie down to recover!!!

    That is not to say that I did not enjoy the less delectable Rocket’s Post – I did, but I did not necessarily, altogether agree that Pepe will magically bewitch us in the near future.

    The problem is that when Pepe plays he fights with Auba for the right wing spot, and Auba is often fighting with Lack for the same right wing slot.

    That is odd — I am sure that prior to Auba joining Arsenal, he was renowned for his brilliance on the left wing.

    Pepe, albeit a left footed player, seems to always have been recognised as a right wing player.

    Anyway, it’s bollix, with 3 top forwards competing for the right wing spot, leaving a still very young Sakha to do his best on the left win.

    Maybe Lacaubapepe are perfectly content and the puzzlement is confined solely to me. 🤪

  8. Gööner In Exile says:

    Rocky I think a lot of what you say above is correct, if we have pace at our disposal which we appear to in abundance especially across the front three, then surely the way to exploit that is to be running into wide open spaces or at least from deep with the ball. As you say none better than Freddie for the attacking surge run late exploring space after a switch of play.

    Emery’s fascination with ball possession limited a lot of our attacking threat too many sideways passes and the momentum lost, surely it should be a case of give the ball to players prepared to drive forward with the ball and teammates to support in case he loses it, creating their own space behind defensive lines and drawing defenders to them. Emery’s possession heavy football gifted oppositions defensive security as they did not have to worry about getting tight and instead just shadow the ball across the lines.

  9. Gööner In Exile says:

    Reminds me of that Guardiola comment about possession for possessions sake being no good to anyone there has to be a final motive to score. Barca’s possession stats were always high but one could never argue the pace was sedentary, the same was true of Cesc, Nasri, RvP era it perhaps only slowed down in the last couple of years of Wenger when teams really did prefer to park the bus.

    Norwich thankfully could provide welcome opposition tomorrow and the way they play will allow us a bit more space. And maybe the board knew a win on Sunday could have made their decision harder

  10. RC78 says:

    RL –
    – Pepe is actually very pacy
    – Pepe is very good playing at the shoulder of his defender
    – Pepe is very good also at dribbling but if comes at the defender running;
    – Pepe is good at corners, PKs and Freekicks
    – Pepe has a good crossing ability and is actually quite good in front of goals

    – Pepe can improve on his defensive contribution
    – Pepe can improve in his decision-making and reading of the game

    I think that in time, he can get to Mane’s level but he would need to work on his defensive contributions.

    I think he can thrive for us in a 4321 or 4231 (or 4411) set up and we should deploy him on the wings for now…

  11. RA says:

    I mentioned the following snippet previously (it can be annoying when an “I told you so” character tells you so, but I don’t care when it’s me doing the “I told you so” )

    But ……. when the Spuds cut the Poch loose, they announced his Maureen replacement almost immediately.
    Clearly (sorry, that weasel word is used so often by lying politicians, when the point they are making is actually far from clear, and is instead muddily opaque) — but I am not being opaque, when comparing the hiring and firing of the Spudos managers with the contrastingly protracted firing of Embers, and the ineluctable search for his replacement that is slated to take several weeks, if not months,

    Surely some clever clogs senior Arsenal administrative manager coulda/shoulda seen the way the wind was blowing, and begun the process of seeking out a potential new manager, or two, in case the wind became a tornado.

    Short-sighted? Incompetent? Lackadaisical? Whatever it was, it does not reflect too well on the latest batch of Gazidis replacements.

    More importantly to this blogger — it damned well irritates me, and makes me wonder if they are going to screw up the next appointment for the Manager/Coach of a great club.

    Great club? Well as defined by the owner, or admin managers perhaps not — but defined by all the passionately committed fans who know what they like – and do not like – then yes it still is!

  12. LBG says:

    Pepe needs time and confidence shown to him by coach and supporters. He has the ability to make it in Premier League and will, IMHO be a Robert Pires next season. Laca, Martinelli, Pepe, Eddie and hopefully Nelson are our future up front. Let them breathe and grow.

  13. RA says:

    Mr Rocket,

    When you referred, in the Post, to the ‘noxious fumes erupting from our rear end’, I trust you were only referring to your good self — the rest of us are the epitome of odour free extrusions of magma like perfection.

  14. LBG says:

    They will only screw up the next appointment if it’s done before next May!
    Expressed my wish for long term future, but whatever, if hes allowed, give Freddie the large part of this season that we have left. Let him prove, apart from ” my deadwood suggestions”, we have a talented squad, not selected efficiently, no confidence currently, and scrambled in the mind.
    Freddie, insist on eleven red mohican hairdos on Sunday and heart and soul for The Arsenal!!

  15. RC78 says:

    I agree that the board, our sporting duo and Edu are clearly not proactive enough. I am hoping to have a new coach before the Xmas games and I am hoping for Ancelotti but he needs to work with former arsenal players, which means in my books Lehmann, Campbell or Cole, Gilberto or Parlour, Ljunberg and Anelka or Dennis or Wright. I think these guys show somehow be associated in the Arsenal rebuild because the club means a lot with them and they had success and the fans would be behind them. Why Anelka? He coached Pepe last year at Lille…

    Ancelotti gets 18 months, grooms a few AFC legends and then when comes summer 2021, we have genuine options with Vieira, Arteta, Henry growing outside the club and the above mentioned bunch from inside the club. If Ancelotti does a good job, give him a more senior role to oversee overall football matters so he csn still act as an advisor to the selected one.

  16. Sue says:

    A goal from open play……. come on Pepe!!

  17. RC78 says:

    Ljungberg as a coach at AFC for Under 23:
    -> Preferred formation 422121 (4231 basically) or 433, with one lone striker and 2 pacy wingers
    -> Play from the back and high-press
    -> Attacking players to remain high-up the pitch (used for high press on defensive phases but asked to remain high up)
    -> Likes to have a B2B and gives him the license to make runs in the box, this could well be Willock
    -> Likes to play players in their best positions or where they can hurt the opposition the most

    So what does it mean for us? I think Willock and Saka have good prospects under FL and I also think that Ozil will find it hard unless FL plays him behind Laca in a 4231, which means Auba on the left.

    I also think that FL will heighten the positions at LB – I think that AMN and Kola will maybe get more chances. I also think that FL will look at Chambers and Torreira and even Luiz at DM and I wonder what he will do with Xhaka. As for our CBs, I think that Holding will be a starter for FL.

    It s going to be interesting but I think that Pepe, Saka, Willock will enjoy working under FL

  18. RC78 says:

    sorry there is a typo in preferred formation, should read:
    42121 not 422121 – with 2 extra players on the pitch, FL would have fun 😛

  19. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky. I have no doubt that Pepe is a great player and worth every penny of his £70m when played in the right place in the right team.

    Hopefully under Freddie we will get back to one and two touch football and getting the ball forward at pace – even if we are playing out from the back.

    I’ve been banging on about the folly of possession for possession’s sake for several years now.

    For quickfire one and two touch football the players have to be continually on the move and have the confidence to execute the plan.

    GiE’s comment about the way the players reacted to Emery comes as no surprise, let’s hope they respect Freddie and that he has a style of football in mind that sets the creative players free and keeps the opposition guessing.

  20. If he gets Pepe playing the way that he did it will require Ozil laying perfect balls through for him to run onto at speed in the way that Bergkamp did for him. I’ve not looked forward to a match as much for a long, long time.

  21. RA says:


    I was going to mention your 1:06 comment had a mathematical inaccuracy, but you corrected it – sort of; 422121 = 1 too many.

    “should read:
    42121 not 422121 – with 2 extra players on the pitch, FL would have fun” Umm;

    42121 = 1 too few.

    Do you want another go? 😁

  22. Sue says:

    What happened to City??? Going to have to hope Leicester catch the dippers now 😬

  23. RA says:

    You could well be correct, LBG, better to take all the time that’s needed to get the appointment right, rather than get panicky and get it wrong.

    My point was that the wily old fox, Lewis had clearly planned the whole project of sacking ‘A’ and replacing him with ‘B’ so it had been properly thought out and worked like clockwork.

    The Arsenal board seemed to be railroaded into firing Embers because of fan and player pressure, when they should have seen for themselves what was happening much sooner, and planned accordingly.

  24. RA says:

    Arsenal have confirmed that The Jolly Green German Giant – Per Mertesecker is appointed as Freddie’s assistant.

    Sounds like they have listened to LBG and are making the interim coaching role more time extensive.

  25. RA says:


    I think the loss to injury of Aguerro, a brilliant CF, is costing Man C and their defensive frailties are making themselves clearer too.

  26. Sue says:

    I think losing Laporte has screwed City, big time, RA… At least Sergio can rest those thighs 😁 He’ll probably miss our game…
    Gutted.. Liverpool and the spuds are winning 😩 Ooh but West Ham are too…. 👍

  27. Sue says:

    Wow, what an afternoon of football!!
    Liverpool had a player sent off 😱😱 and at Anfield 😮 Spuds still leaking…..
    Highlight of the day – West Ham!!! Nice one, COYI!!!

  28. RA says:

    Sue, 😁😜

  29. Mike M says:

    @ Rocky, great article. Hope you’re right.
    Point of caution, whenever a manager gets fired, there always seems to be a lot of information that “emerges” about all the stuff he was doing wrong. I’d imagine a lot of it was true, but often times it’s a little exaggerated.
    No doubt Emery lost control and struggled tactically. He also lost the players during the last couple of weeks. I’d imaging there are numerous reasons for that.

  30. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Mike

    And good point about how it’s easy to slag off a guy once he’s gone.

    Clearly all was not well under Emery but I’d take half the criticisms with a pinch of salt.

    “The players made fun of his accent on the team bus.” Big deal – I’m sure players at every club make fun of the boss at times .

  31. Sue says:

    Euro 2020… France, Portugal and Germany in the same group – very juicy!!!

  32. RC78 says:

    Sue – I think the teams will qualify with 5 point maybe… 1 win and 2 draws and good goal difference

  33. RC78 says:

    As for France 2020, here is the predicted line-up vs Germany in the first barring injuries:

    Llors – Pavard, Varane, Lenglet, Hernandez, Digne – Pogba, Kante – Griezmann – Giroud, Mbappe

  34. VP of Oz says:

  35. Morning all

    We have a New Post …………..

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