Arteta should trust in star coming into form especially after January window (Opinion)

The January transfer window was a major disappointment for Arsenal fans around the globe, but Nicolas Pepe’s form at the AFCON could well give us a timely boost. Guest post by Sarah Rohan.

A mass flow of outgoings happened at the Emirates this transfer window, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang even getting a late late deal to Barcelona but we failed to add to the playing squad before the deadline.

No new signings came in, excluding the two MLS stars who will join next season. Matt Turner and Austin Trusty. Yeah Trusty the process! Maybe Arteta wanted him in because it matches his favourite moto?!

What do we do now then? Our squad is now down to the bare minimum. As the window’s deadline drew closer it was becoming glaringly obvious that it was going to be baron for us. It seemed like it was all about the money money money for the owners and the board.

So we now have seventeen games left and are currently lying in sixth. Out of all the cups and no European football to contend with. Only leaving us with the battle for the European places. Obviously we would all want to see us battling for fourth place, but a realist will see this is a mighty task now, so top six it is then? Much more realistic for our current situation in my opinion.

So what needs to happen now? For one, we better hope there are no injuries throughout the rest of the season otherwise we are kaput! That’s putting it politely!

Well we have one player who may need to step up, a very expensive forgotten man at that, who we actually didn’t loan out or sell. Nicolas Pepe! Did anyone watched AFCON? From his four games he scored two, assisted one and got MOTM twice. I think if they went further in the competition he could’ve got player of the tournament, and let’s not forget how hard goals have been to come by in the climate also.

He’s actually a very skilled player, very quick footed and can create goal scoring chances. I feel sorry that he hasn’t been given enough chances this term. Possibly misunderstood? I thought he was a miserable player with an attitude when he played for us. After seeing him playing at AFCON, I’ve realised that’s just how he he appears, and will not take it personally for our club.

Surely it’s worth a risk to give him regular starts? We know Saka plays in his position and the chances of Saka being dropped is slim to none. So why bench a 72 million player the rest of the season when we could chance him in another position? Or do we now rely on Nketiah? Who really I only see as a back up for someone else. I know who I would trust more to get us goals. Now I know it’s not likely that he’d get played In the striker role but he has done in the past when Bielsa had him at Lille and he performed well there.

Last season Nicolas played 47 games for us, subbed on for 17 of them and still scored 16 and assisted five, and that’s as a winger! It’s just really annoying when a player like him shows promise but gets benched or subbed. Has his time in north London really made his ability disappear? How is he meant to keep up with playing well when he doesn’t know if he’s dropped or playing and to keep his momentum going?

There’s much much worse players out there in our league playing week-in week-out. Just give the poor bloke games and let him prove himself. Surely now is the right time for it?

After what feels like forever, I’ll be glad to see my team playing again against a tough Wolves team on the 10th! Let’s hope our squad is in top form after their Dubai training camp.


Tags Nicolas Pepe


  1. Many might he frustrated with the window, as some rivals strengthen but all in all not many did.

    The reason is clear but now we can focus on the summer plans.

    We are in transition, we are off loading players and we are in need tonsign, which is evident for everyone.

    So the next round of recruitment is going to be really exciting as we need some top areas filled.

    If Pepe doesn’t come to the party, even as a makeshift forward for the remaining season, then he will also likely be off

  2. Nketiah comes on as a winger when we’re chasing a game in the closing stages and desperately need to score, while Pepe sits on the bench. Don’t know what other signs we fans want to know that Arteta deliberately doesn’t want to play Pepe, despite him being our most potent goal threat. Enough said

    1. I dont know what arteta sees on nketiah, should have sold him to crystal palance n even if dont bring any replacement.

    2. 👍 Too bad Arteta never gives out information to support his actions. Everyone is treated like mushrooms.

  3. My problem with arteta is poor man management. There are no rotations and plays the same player everytime and doesnt freshen the players and the other players loose form amd when his favourite get injured or suspended the other players are not match fit.

    1. Yes, I also deem poor man management to be a serious flaw with Arteta! I also see him fall short when it comes to developing young talents! Arteta needs a person who can help with what he is not good at, but he is too proud for doing that I think!

  4. It is impossible to fathom what Arsenal are doing. It looks like they are getting rid of players to create the illusion of change; which is working based on how many people are buying into the whole “get rid of the deadwood” baloney the team is feeding the media.

    nicholas Pepe was Arsenal’s best wing player last season, out performing Saka, Willian, and Martinelli for goal involvements. His reward? Oblivion. This has nothing to do with performance or ability, but ownership. And money.

    It looks like Arsenal are desperate to become a selling club; a team that finds and signs good, young players, develops them, then sells them to the really good teams, for a profit. Southampton has made this an art form. Who ever thought Arsenal would be emulating the south coast minnows?

    Arsenal kept Cedric, who is useless and has been from day one, and sent Hector Bellerin on loan and Calum Chambers, who, while not a first XI player is a good player with excellent versatility; to a rival for free. Bellerin is better than Cedric and better than Chambers, but was sent out.

    Arsenal signed Nuno Tavares, who is raw and a huge liability when he plays big minutes, and let Sead Kolasinac, who likewise has been effective in spells, but gets exposed when he plays a lot, for free. Between what Tavares cost and his wages, Arsenal saved nothing and did not improve the team.

    Arsenal signed Albert-Sambi-Lokonga, an athletic central midfielder who does not score, with a defensive bent and sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a player with a very similar profile, out on loan to Roma. Arsenal spent money and did not improve the team, but created an illusion of change with this move.

    Arsenal sent Pablo Mari out on loan, despite having only three recognized central defenders in the team. The assumption is, once the cups were over, he would not play anyway, but selling four central defenders in one season, with only three in the team? Tomiyasu has already been injured once, and Tierney has likewise had issues. Partey has had his injury problems
    , as has Gabriel.

    Arsenal’s roster looks more like Burnley’s than Man U’s, Liverpool’s, or Chelsea’s. But by all means, keep Pepe on the bench.

  5. Its not just a question of form, Arteta doesn’t trust Pepe to do the simple things of the pressing game, and not to give easy balls away because of poor decisions. ESR will probably play as winger before Pepe does, and Pepe will be a last resort option.

    1. If Pepe can learn to press high up and improve on his decision making he will do well upfront than Nkethia. He remains the best dribbler we have and his height is not bad for a CF compared to Nkethia and Lacazette. I guess Arteta is aware of this before letting Auba leaves.

      1. I have said this few months ago that Pepe’s first touch and his ability to dribble is amazing and he knows where the goal is and that he can make a great center forward for us

          1. Something a coach should be able to coach on right, it’s not complicated is it. It’s as simple as telling him to start being more direct and advise on the game reviews where he should’ve been more direct.

    2. Even with the pressing game, where are we on the table? How many goals have we scored. Pepe is the most composed finisher in the squad. Arteta is a naive and arrogant Man.
      He will cost us top 4 this season. His ego is writing cheques that his body cannot cash

      1. God bless you my brother, his ego can not cash the check he’s writing. We the fans are the ones bearing the heartaches, the shame of defeats and stagnation. Arteta thinks he’s Gardiola 2, not knowing that he was an apprentice that never finished learning before Arsenal foolishly bring him to handle a team as big as Arsenal. Arsenal needs a matured coach.

  6. I have been quite this whole January transfer window, I didn’t expect much hence the reason I kept off all transfer rumours. Supposedly because I didn’t want to be disappointed! Apparently the window has been a disgrace to us arsenal fans, we couldn’t even sign a player on loan even after offloading Soo many so called squad players. As for pepe he should and deserves more playing time.

  7. Pepe does not play according to “The Process.” No matter how hard MA tries to bend him to his “process,” Pepe plays his own process, even if his own process rescued us a lot last season.
    MA cannot accept any other process that is not his.
    I believe every football team needs different kinds of players, players who can singlehandedly win you a match, that is who pepe is. Why not MA work on Pepe and develop his football style, after all, Mo Salah plays almost a one-man show in Liverpool. Is it a crime if Pepe wants to go in that direction.
    These are the kind of players that win you Medals in very difficult games.
    I guess MA is just following his boss, no wonder he has not carried the CL with his process.
    Thesame process MA wants to stick to.
    Auba can singlehandedly win you a match on a very good day (FA Cup).
    Pepe, the same, I watched him throughout the AFCON.
    Well, MA just need schoolboys, who will not challenge or question the process, just like his boss did with Iniesta & Xavi, who were carrying schoolbags and lunch to Barca training ground. Thesame reason why Ibra fell out with Guardiola, “the process.”
    MA forgot that his boss succeeded in Barca greatly because of Messi (because of this singular point, he wants to prove otherwise with Man City).
    He doesn’t want to use any star player to carry the Champions League, he failed in Bayern, but looks like succeeding in Man City.
    This is the process we gooners have been waiting for.

    1. Very interesting analysis icewalker, thank you.
      Like you I prefer 10 times Klopp’s style of football to Pep’s and Arteta’s.
      Martinelli-Laca-Pepe would be an amazing front 3 in a Klopp team.

      There’s many ways to play football which is why this game is so interesting.

      Whatever the football style played I feel the most important thing is to have a coherent system with complementary players that fully adhere to the Managers football style.

      Arteta and Pepe are not a good match.

      Even though Arteta’s football style isn’t my favourite he’s sold it to the board and if played properly it will work. The team has been reshaped in this direction for the past two years and we can’t stop half way through. We’ve got to go all in until there’s a team fully matching Arteta’s vision and only then there can be significant success. If that means sacrificing some super talented player like Pepe along the way then so be it.

      I want to see a coherent Arsenal team with everyone pulling the same direction.

  8. I watched all pepe’s games at afcon. he performed brilliantly. I dont just understand why Arteta will bench him.

    He has over used saka…now he goes missing in games.

    I hope he takes advantage of pepe form

    1. Pepe is not being utilised correctly by Arteta, who is incapable of adapting a player who doesn’t fit his rigid ideas. Pepe is a free spirit and can be a match winner in the right hands. His ostracisation is baffling when we fail so many times to score goals because we are so predictable.

      1. Thank you Reggie,
        this is the secret of soccer, play according to a pattern, then, have some free-spirited players in your team who can win you a match. That is why LIV has been successful for a long time now

  9. For all those claiming Pepe is a flop because of his price tag, must first accept the fact that he did not negotiate that fee to buy him. Secondly, check his stats in comparison to the other wingers since joining Arsenal in terms of minutes played ,goals scored and assists.Because making an appearance in a match for the last 10-15 minutes is a lot different than starting a game and playing for 75-80 minutes. Just remember last season, Willian was getting the starts and played over 70 minutes before Pepe was brought in sometimes and Arsenal dropped to 15th. When Pepe was switched to starting instead of Willian, Arsenal moved up the table to finish 8th with Pepe scoring 10 goals and 5 assist. Currently, Saka, ESR and Martinelli are all performing well and should keep their starting roles, but, Arteta must rotate his players smartly and keep them fresh , as overplaying can bring fatigue,hence their lost of pace and form,as we saw in the match against Burnley with Saka and Lacazette in particular. Pepe is undoubtedly one of best finishers in the team and Arteta must find a way to get him more involved. Keeping ball possession and not scoring is worse than losing ball possession
    occasionally and scoring goals. Only when goals are scored matches can be won, otherwise, the result will be a draw or lost and in that case the team still loses vital points. Pepe can be played as a center forward too.Arsenal needs goals and not possession without goals.

  10. Problem seems the be that Artetaball requires people to adhere to a strict system; positioning over movement, pass to a static teammate rather than playing into space, and majority of play is created on the wings rather than through the middle.

    Willian made reference to this when he spoke out early in his signing with Arsenal. Specifically about adapting to the way Arteta plays, and about passing to a static player rather than playing the ball into space.

    Pepe is a solid finisher, I would argue better than Laca and Nketiah. What do we have to lose at this point, with our 2 strikers scoring a total of 3 goals.

      1. No, I guess it has been a while since you have watched him Reggie.

        It has more to do with the way he is defended.

        There are some teams he plays well against, but as I keep saying, the other teams have a manager too, and I think most of them know how to defend him!!!

        Although I think he needs to be given a few starts just to remind us all.

    1. Durand, football is a simple game. Put the ball into the net and stop the opposition from doing the same. Unfortunately, Arteta needs to be judged by the end product; the ball is not going into the net for Arsenal often enough.

  11. I’m really tired of reading and been told about January window it’s been very tiring out. Shall we move on.

  12. Hopefully Pepe plays and improves us. That’s my sincere hope and desire.

    But, the moment he plays two or three games and doesn’t meet expectations, it’s these same people 👆 that will begin another series on how Arteta keeps playing Pepe when he should clearly be on the bench and call Pepe a 72 million flop.

    The fans on this site, if truly that’s what they are, do not really know what they want. They just love to moan and groan and whine.

    I am even beginning to believe most of them really don’t feel happy when all is going well, cos it deprives them the opportunity to moan about Arteta.

  13. Pepe out on the left, Saka on the right and can mix it up through out the game. Smithrowe & Øde can also play on the wings along with Martinelli who could end up going up top if Laca doesn’t start finding his scoring boots!

    There is enough players for rotation and rest time for the forward line to do us until the summer, alot of pressure on Laca to deliver until then.

    It’s the CM where we are short ad Xhaka Is a liability no doubt due to his recklessness and Lokonga isn’t ready so that leaves Partey & Elneny who is leaving soon too. If Partey gets injured we won’t finish Top6!

    White has been okay at CB but the sooner Saliba is back with that height, Strength and bringing the ball out from the back would be a perfect partner for Gabriel. White can pass a ball well, get a tackle in & tries his best but maybe sitting alongside partey in the middle would be better fit for him in future.

    RB a big concern but LB is covered along with the Gk positions until the summer.

    Pepe could come back motivated and ready to go, all down to Mikel to get the best out of him as we know he has it in his locker to be a big problem for any team.

  14. Is Donny Van de beek not good enough to play for Arsenal? The boy wants to show that he can blend with top players too and he seems hungry.

    imagine a midfield of him and ESR.. that was a miss in this winter window. The good thing is we didn’t end up with leftovers and arsenal are starting to show some ruthlessness by sticking to what they have.

    However, I want to keep the faith. I hope this decision works for the second half of the season.. all the pundits will begin with the usual loud speakers we have had good moments this season, keeping it burning will see us close up the table.


  15. Well, it’s now or never for Pepe, isn’t it. He’s got to provide a better option than steady Eddie Nketian. He could even save Arsenal’s season with his poaching. However this is a best case scenario. Till now he has never been consistent enough to merit a start. Yes, hell grab a goal from nowhere in one game, but in the next Arsenal may as well be playing with 10 men, such will be his contribution.

  16. Top 4 has become a dream officially!

    No finisher in our team .. and we are hoping that MA will be smart enough to use Pepe!

    Pepe can be used as number 10 player if Ode is not creating enough chances! or instead of Saka if he is not at his best .. this player is not “that bad” he just needs some more trust in his abilities and skills

  17. Agree completely with the article. I was a fan of Pepe from the beginning, but circumstances and situations have let him down. Arteta must definitely give him another chance as a striker, since Saka is irreplacable, let Pepe be tried out as a striker, no harm in that.I am sure Pepe wont disappoint us. He has got the pace, the dribble and the accuracy to shoot, the only thing and the main thing is his consistency. If he improves on that, that would be great.

  18. GoonerP, thank you for an excellent article. 47 starts, 17 off the bench for 16 goals and 5 assists from the wing for Nicolas Pepe and he can’t get a start, says it all. And the team can’t buy a goal!
    It will be interesting to see how long Saka, ESR, Odegaard, Martinelli, Tierney and Pepe hang around under the current regime.

  19. Pepe hasn’t been great to be fair, but whilst he’s an Arsenal player, at least use him from the bench.

    Not sure if he’s yet another player who’s fallen out with Arteta, but strange how little game time he gets. Even more painful when you see Nketiah coming on in front of him.

    1. Jonbo, it is not a matter of being “great”, but the manager selecting the best performing players he has available in the Arsenal squad. Which forward players have better stat’s than Pepe, who doesn’t get a start, despite Arsenal’s inability to score goals?

      1. I get what what you’re saying, and I can only think Pepe doesn’t get game time because he also doesn’t fit into the system (i.e. he doesn’t work hard enough, and press aggressively).

        Although I wouldn’t pick Pepe over Martinelli, ESR, and Saka. I would however try him upfront instead of Nketiah.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs