Is Pepe Next On Arteta’s Hit List? By Dan Smith
Pepe yet again has to hope that assisting and scoring in the Europa League will be enough to earn him a start in the Premiership. It didn’t work last week against Dundalk. A man of the match display wasn’t enough to get on the pitch at all at Old Trafford.
Arteta has shown he can be ruthless when he needs to be. From day one he said he has certain standards from each player, and if they don’t fit his ethos then too bad.
In my opinion, the midfielder had perhaps his best game as a Gunner in the FA Cup Final, setting up the winner, holding up the ball, winning free kicks and timing the correct moments to produce the fancy flicks. Yet instead of our record signing being allowed to take that momentum into this campaign, he didn’t start on the opening day of the season.
In fact he’s yet to start a single game in the Premiership this season which isn’t what you expect from someone you paid 72 million for. Our manager won’t be making that choice based on form, because as already mentioned Pepe was brilliant against Chelsea at Wembley.
So that has to mean in the short pre-season that the boss simply isn’t seeing the process he would like. While the Ivorian isn’t quite in the camp of Ozil and Sokratis in terms of they simply don’t suit his ethos, he might be starting to worry that his strengths simply don’t suit what Arteta is trying to build.
When the Spaniard was asked about the player a week ago, he almost didn’t want to reference the player’s pace or delivery. It was like those were assets he didn’t care about. Instead he focused on what the player doesn’t do consistently; timing his runs, knowing when to track back and help the full back.
One of the first things Arteta did when returning to the club was to organise them into a unit hard to break down. For that to work everyone needs to understand their jobs. At the moment, part of the process is sacrificing flair for hard work.
Our three forwards on Sunday were not clinical in the final third, but they all pressed and worked hard. It seems Pepe isn’t trusted to do that.
At the moment he’s like a luxury that Arteta would love to have in a couple of years but not at this stage.
At the Etihad, the likes of Sterling said his (then) assistant manager’s strength was getting the best out of talent on the training pitch. Yet he’s also shown he will only work with you to a point. If he feels you’re not going to fit into his vision he will let you know.
If you believe some rumours, there are players Arteta has simply told don’t have a future while he’s in charge, players who only stayed due to others not willing to match their wages.
Something tells me in training Arteta is keeping an eye on Pepe but how long will he give him?