Pepe or not Pepe? That is the Question

What next for Nico?

Perhaps it is time we took stock of our mercurial Ivorian.

His performance against Molde pretty much summed up his time at Arsenal.

For most of the game (certainly until Bukayo Saka came on) he was, frankly, pretty poor.

He was unable to impose himself against a team who are hardly numbered among the greats of world football (no disrespect to Molde, who deserve credit for the way they played us).

He seemed to trip over the ball at times, at others he was muscled off it. When he tried to dribble he lost possession and he offered no real goal threat.

Then he ended the game with an assist and (another) peach of a goal.

The man is a mystery.

It would be easy to be critical of him for the majority of his play against the Norwegians, just as it was against Dundalk a week earlier. But in both games he ended up on the score sheet.

So what’s the problem?

Is it that his £72m price tag weighs too heavily? Is it that the way we set up (and, more importantly, the way teams set up against us) does not suit his game? Is it just down to his quality?

I think we can discount the last one. He has shown on enough occasions that when given an opportunity he can do the right things and do them very well. If you cast your mind back to our FA Cup Final win, his control and pass for Aubameyang’s winner were top, top class.

It’s consistency that’s the problem.

There was a discussion about him on the Arseblog podcast yesterday in which it was suggested that we should be hoping he becomes a new Ljungberg or Pires, capable of delivering 20 goals a year.

No doubt we would all love that, but it may be a stretch for Pepe. Over his club career he has scored 50 goals in 180 games – or a goal about every three-and-a-half games. If he played all the games in a Premier League season that means we could expect him to find the net 10 or 11 times. Not bad, but not likely to make the difference in us achieving something special.

The missing part of this puzzle is his potential. What is he capable of if coached to be the best he can be? It must be on Mikel Arteta’s mind. El Patron saw Raheem Sterling arrive at Manchester City as a gifted but raw and frustrating striker and watched as Pep Guardiola turned him into a world class player.

Can he do it with Pepe? What do you think?

My feeling is that it ultimately won’t work out for Nico at Arsenal. I dearly hope that I’m wrong, but my instincts make me doubt that he will suddenly explode as a goalscoring, assist-making talent and I would be unsurprised if we start the 2021-2022 season without him.



11 Responses to Pepe or not Pepe? That is the Question

  1. LBG says:

    Have to read you post later and comment then Rocky.
    In meantime, what a plonker Moaninho is suggesting the new Welsh coach ( whilst Giggs is banged to rights) who also assists Mikel at the Arse, Albert Stuivenberg, might work Bale too hard in the Interull and spoil all the work Totteringham have done with him.
    Stupid suggestion……but great idea….kick him in the nuts Albert, then tell him about you time in the War…..

  2. RockyLives says:

    If I was Stuivenberg I would play Bale for every minute of every game and tell Maureen to shove it.

  3. RA says:

    Well done, Rocky, 😁

    I cannot make up my mind as regards Pepe, because his dribbling can be great one time, but another time he does just what you describe in the Post.

    Equally, he doesn’t anticipate where other players are, so that he can play them in, or receive the ball from them, and he just seems to get lost.

    And then, he shows up from nowhere and scores with a peach of a shot.

    Like you, I would not be surprised if Arsenal sell him to get some of the transfer money back, but also like you, I hope our man Arteta can work more magic and transform him into a regular goalscorer. Now that would be magic!! 🤪

    I have some sympathy with his attempts to give assists to our other forwards, because in many matches when a cross from the wing is called for, there often is no one in the opposition penalty area, and the ball is wasted.

  4. fred1266 says:

    I remember when we bought pepe, I was saying we didn’t need to by any cause of saka how right was I

    That being said we need to stop buying these Ivorian day have been a massive disappointment but personally I think pepe should be starting over willian since he offers nothing offensively maybe a run of games for pepe might do him good

    To be fair on pepe arsenal have been horrible offensively of late so I believe once we get or goal scoring touch pepe would probably find his own also

    In hindsight should we have bought Zaha

  5. Sue says:

    You know my answer to that, Fred 😉

  6. RockyLives says:

    Good point Fred. Pepe and Willian’s struggles may be part of the reason we are so toothless in attack – but also the fact we are so toothless offensively may be why Pepe and Willian are struggling…

  7. LBG says:

    You dont seem too happy! “Horrible offensively”!! Not enough goals sure, but “1-0 to the Arsenal” is OK by me until Aubang starts knocking them in regularly again. Best defence in the League!
    Thanks for the post. Having walked the dog twice, and cleared a mountain of leaves from the back grass, I am ready to comment on Pepe. I believe he deserves, like Mikel, a full season to settle in and hope he will start showing some of that consistency we require (especially for assists, which was his speciality in France), before the end of this season. I repeat oft that Robert Pires was awful in his first full season and only proved his genius when he trusted himself against gorillas in the Premier League. I also have a feeling there is a bit of the Ainsley M-N in him! So laid back he almost seems asleep and certainly, lacking in ‘Arsenal’ passion. Perhaps Mikel will find the key, like he did with A M-N. It’s the fireworks season. Perhaps a rocket up the a***.
    Happy weekend AAers and COYG.

  8. LB says:

    Hmmm, a very thought provoking post, in a nut shell my view is this: Willian is struggling to adapt to a new system and Pepe is struggling with his talent or lack of it.

    I think Willian is more likely to click into what we hoped for than Pepe. Cast your mind back to the first game of the season and remember how Willian just ran the show and got three assists or something like that. He played with a great sense of freedom that he obviously brought from his previous club.

    He has since been forced into a far more regimented set up and lets be in no doubt: regimented is exactly what Arteta requires, no criticism meant here — it’s working but for me this is new to Willian and he is taking a while to adjust.

    But there is no doubt that he has the talent so I expect him to shine again sooner rather than later. He also has the added security of being an Arteta signing and that is another reason why he will be persevered with.

    Contrast that with Pepe: not an Arteta signing and certainly not living up to expectations but with Willian still struggling to adapt the Frenchman is being given more time and more playing opportunities that otherwise he may not.

    As for Pepe not being here in 21-22, I understand the rationale but who would buy him and more importantly who would pay the same level of wages to entice him to leave?

    Seems to me that we have Pepe for the length of his contract hopefully we end up being happy about that but I am not holding my breath.

  9. RockyLives says:

    New Post

  10. fred1266 says:

    LB was it willian running the show or more like. Our position were trash

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