If Nicolas Pepe want to be successful at Arsenal, he must improve his dribbling stats.
It was nearly the perfect way to end the season. If other results had gone their way, Arsenal would have finished in the European places for 25th successive season.
However, it is not the worst thing in the world that they finished outside the European places. Maybe this Arsenal team needs a time for reflection. A time to reboot their system after what has been three awful campaigns.
Mikel Arteta must learn that persistence can be a positive quality in a manager, but not when it tips over to become stubbornness. The manager as well as the players have to reach a different level next season.
One player, who has been extremely frustrating to watch at times, should carry forward the form that he has shown at the end of the current season. That player is Nicolas Pepe.
Four goals in two Premier League games is a good return for any player. In total, the Ivorian has 21 goals/assists this season in 47 appearances.
His goal involvements at the Emirates Stadium is not the aspect of the game that infuriates the Arsenal faithful. It is the inability to create havoc in defensive lines through his dribbling skills.
Before signing for the London club, there was huge excitement among the club’s supporters when they were linked to the former Lille man. In the Ligue 1, he was taking on defenders for fun. Nutmegging them, outrunning them, bamboozling them with his dribbling and what not.
But that has somehow not transpired in North London. Keeping aside his decent goals/assists return, Pepe’s figures suggest that he has had an underwhelming two seasons in England.
The winger has just seen 36.7% of his shots hitting the target. On the other end of the spectrum, the Ivorian has looked very predictable. Pepe passing back to the midfielder has become a common theme in Arsenal’s slow buildup.
The Ivorian on an average has completed 17.20 Shorts Passes, 9.36 Medium Passes and 2.02 Long Passes per 90 minutes. He has also made just 1.02 Key Passes per 90, which is an extremely poor number for Premier League standards.
The former Lille man’s figure of Passes into Final Third and Shot-Creating Actions also looks grim at 1.04 and 2.88. But what has been the most frustrating is his Percentage of Dribbles Completed at 46.7% which puts him in the bottom 9 percentile of wingers in the Premier League.
While the 25-year-old Carries into the Final Third is at a lowly 1.26.
There is no doubt in the fact that Nicolas Pepe is a talented individual. The team’s awful performances since his arrival has played a bit part in the Ivory international’s bland Arsenal career.
A good pre-season behind him and better players around him might improve his displays on the pitch. Being unpredictable and contributing to the end product is what wingers do for a living.
While he seems to be improving the latter, he needs to be more erratic in his dribbling. In simpler terms, Pepe just has to be his old-self, which made Arsenal break their transfer record on.
That’s what Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal supporters would be hoping from their ‘Pepito.’