Arsenal fans must hope that Pepe can kick on next season

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.’

Yash Bisht

Tags fribbles goals Pepe stats


  1. From a recent Twitter post.
    ‘Arsenal pay Lille 95 million for Pepe and Gabriel.
    Lille win first Title in 10 years while Arsenal finish outside Europe first time in 25 years’.
    Harsh but ironic.
    May be we should hire the Lille Manager and their sales team😁

    1. Not the manager. their Sporting Director..
      He was linked with Arsenal before they hired Edu

  2. He needs proper 1 on 1 coaching, he has all the raw ability to be a fantastic player.

    He lacks a bit of a football brain but that’s where MA is supposed to be working with him.

    29 EPL games this season and 13 of those are bench also show he rarely gets a run of starts.

  3. Not fussed about the dribbling so much (should be more direct and hold onto it so long sometimes but that’s all), but he needs to work in getting into goalscoring positions more and more often, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already happening. He’s got quick feet but his most valuable attribute is his finishing and his final ball isn’t bad either.
    I’m quite convinced he can be a 20ish goal player if he works like that because he’s quite clinical, just needs to be more direct on and off the ball

  4. Very good player….Needs consistency though….He and Willock will terrorise defences next terme…..

  5. How good could Nicholas Pepe be, if given the personalised coaching of Dennis Bergkamp on technique, hard work, dedication and application?

  6. Not the manager.. their Sporting Director..
    He was linked with Arsenal before they hired Edu

  7. Pepe and Gabriel shone in a League which is much slower and less physical than the EPL..Pepe has proved to be a very good finisher and I would not be surprised if Arteta considers using him in the centre rather than on the RW where he is predictable and has a very bad habit of giving away possession.Neither Auba nor Lacca have impressed me this season and I suspect one of other will be moved on.Pepe is a natural talent on the ball but defensively he is a liability.For that reason a!one I hope he gets a chance as a central striker where he cannot do much damage to our defensive set up.As for Gabriel,he has a lot to learn if he is going to make it in the EPL.

    1. I don’t see him being a major success as a lone striker – he’d be deadly if we could play him behind the defence but it’s more difficult against deep-lying defences, and I don’t think he has the skillset for a centre forward. We need to get him into Central positions, I agree, but I think it needs to come from him starting from deeper it the wide positions, similar to how Auba played for us last season

  8. The comment on the dribbling is naive, whenever pepe plays every other team knows they have to double up on him on that side so being direct and dribbling past as people do in FIFA is not possible all the time ,thats where the full back (on pepe’s side) and the attacking midfielder’s coordination comes in. Arteta is making the same mistake as far as i see it as emery did , of over complicating things, changing the whole tactical setup for every opposition which is always NOT going to work.
    Arteta doesnt seem to settle in on one tactical setup and set of players and give them a run in. For example one day smith rowe will play as the attacking mf from the centre while the second game odegaard will play, it disrupts the coordination of the right sided forward play.
    Even in yesterday’s match, our major impetus of attacking play was through kieran tierney, if not for pepe’s good form in finishing, we would have found it hard scoring.

    there are a lot of reasons why i dont want arteta to be at arsenal for the start of the next season, but my major issue is that he is not YET adept at playing attacking brand of football. His football is too safe and pedestrian most of the times, that has for the first time since ive started watching arsenal over the past twenty years, arteta has literally made me sleep during games.

  9. People are always very harsh on Pepe, the system of changing and chopping of the team causes inconsistent to the players. Similarly to our defense, how are they expected to jell when each and every game it’s new combination

  10. I think it is not about dribbling but about Pepe escaping the attentions of the defenders and getting into those attacking positions that needs to be improved. Imo he would benefit implementing a bit of Thomas Mueller’s playing style of attacking the spaces. Or he could go down the route of Salah, but the problem with that would be we have to change our playing style to more like the one Liverpool use. I think Pepe can become a 25 goal contributions per season player if goes more direct and gets into finishing positions more.

    1. What people cant see or dont want to see, is teams double up on Pepe regularly and that makes it more difficult for him.

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