Arteta’s tactical switch credited for Pepe’s return to form

Nicolas Pepe will be in the team when Arsenal faces Leeds this weekend, but his Arsenal career could have been ended by his red card in the reverse fixture.

Mikel Arteta didn’t enjoy that he got himself sent off in a game that they would eventually have to defend for much of the second half.

The Ivorian has been at Arsenal since 2019, but last season was a time for him to get used to the Premier League.

This was the campaign that everyone expected him to start showing why Arsenal broke their transfer record to sign him.

He started poorly and was rarely in the team before Arsenal faced the Whites last November.

He has now been a key member of the team over the last few weeks, scoring twice in his last 4 matches for the club and putting in some fine performances.

Mail Sports’ Sam Blitz says it is a tactical switch from Arteta that is bringing the best from him.

He writes in his column: “After spending his entire Arsenal career operating from the right-hand side, Arteta deployed Pepe on the left for the Europa League tie and the Ivorian responded by putting in arguably his best display in a Gunners shirt.

“The winger marauded down his new side on the pitch, playing key roles in goals for Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe as Arsenal romped to a 4-1 win. He could have added two more assists on the night were it not for better finishing from his team-mates. 

“It was the kind of performance that reminded Arsenal’s critics that Arteta can bring the best out of wide players, in the same way he developed the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane as Manchester City’s assistant manager. 

“Yet the use of club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left meant that Arteta’s tactical shift was only a blueprint – Pepe returned to the right-hand side for the Gunners’ pre-Christmas matches but found himself dropped due to the rise in form of Bukayo Saka.

“Personal problems for Aubameyang gave Pepe another chance from the left in back-to-back matches against Southampton in January. 

“The winger impressed in the first match and bettered his display in the second – scoring Arsenal’s opening goal in a 3-1 victory to secure their fifth win in six games. 

“The next match saw him score a superb solo goal away at Wolves which justified Arteta selecting Pepe over the returning Aubameyang – who had to settle for a spot on the bench for both the match at Molineux and last weekend’s trip to Aston Villa. ”

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  1. RSH says:

    Can you “return to form” when you were never in form? And two matches constitutes being in form? If he is bad tomorrow we’ll be saying same old Pepe. We need to raise standards and not celebrate our record transfer finally being decent for two games in a row.

  2. Reggie says:

    Im not sure a tactical switch is the correct term, that intimates it was Arteta that did it. The truth is in the article auba and Tierney were out we needed balance and Pepe was deployed on the left, something a few of us had been calling for for months. He played well and surprise surprise, not, he played well. Arteta doesn’t deserve any credit for it, just like ESR, it was stumbled upon by circumstance.

    1. The Real Vieira Lynn says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself Reggie…I’ll give him credit for a tactical switch when he finally grows a pair and takes the handbrakes off this largely defensive borefest

  3. MAXCAT says:

    Nothing to do with moving from right to left.
    It is allowing him to play off the wing and further infield, where he can pick up the ball while facing the goal.
    Arteta does not even know what he is doing right or wrong.

  4. Emeka Charles says:

    I wonder why Pablo Maris is not playing. Is he injured? He plays better than David Luis in the defence without those inexplicable errors often by Luis.

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