Keeping Nicolas Pepe on the bench leaves Arsenal fans furious

Fans are not happy with Unai Emery for not introducing Nicolas Pepe into the game against Wolves

To say that the Arsenal faithful are unhappy is an understatement of massive proportions and their mood was certainly not lifted when Unai Emery did not utilise the clubs record signing yesterday.

Yesterday, Emery made three substitutions, Gabriel Martinelli came on in the 60th minute for Alexandre Lacazette. Bukayo Saka was swapped for Lucas Torreira on the 73rd minute. Then, with just three minutes left in regulation time when Arsenal are pushing for a winner, the manager brings off Kieran Tierney for Sead Kolasinac.

Bewildering, to say the least, and the fans were not impressed that Pepe was left kicking his heels on the bench.

Fans react

A quick check of Twitter and you get a taste of the reaction.

Emery is not making life for himself any easier with these decisions. Of course, fans do not pick the team but a sensible clear explanation of why the £72 Million signing was not used would have been helpful.

These are the sort of decisions that cost managers their jobs because it opens up questions about their judgement.

I personally do not understand the managers thinking on this. In fact, I have yet to find anyone give a coherent reason why Pepe was not brought into the game.


  1. Benching Pépé was were the problem started.

    When you play Ozil he should have 3 runners in front of him to help open the defense more.

    Emery is clueless I don’t want to see him next season.

    1. Frightening stat.. Arsenal failed to have a single shot on target in the second half of the match, with their last such effort coming in the 32nd minute.

      This is not a one off though. We struggle in most games and have for a while now..

      1. But King Ozil was back, the master of assists, surely that cannot be right. Ceballos was playing, the great messiah and long term Ozil replacement, no way that stat can be right. Xhaka and Mustafi were not playing, those stats must be wrong.

        1. According to Opta, it is correct! Massively worrying 🙁

          It proves the brand of football is all wrong at Arsenal. The identity has gone and our attacking flair is nothing more than a memory. If you watch the way we play we give our opposition way too much time and space on the ball. We don’t press or fight for the ball. Other bad stats that show this are:

          57.7% – 42.3%

          Duels success rate
          44.6% – 55.4%

          Aerial duels won
          28.0% – 72.0%

          6 – 16

          Remember, Arsenal were at home. Like, WTF?!

          Our work to get the ball is poor and our work rate off the ball is just as poor. LAZY!!

  2. It wasn’t starting Pepe that was the problem, but replacing Torreira with Saka. If Torreira was simply tired, I would have moved Chambers into defensive midfield, and brought on Bellerin. I would have finished the game like this.

    Aubameyang Martinelli
    Ceballos Guendouzi Chambers Ozil
    Kolasinac Luiz Sokratis Bellerin

  3. The only logical explanation I can think of for Emery’s illogical decisions, is that he wants the sack. It’s too stressful at Arsenal, but instead of just walking, he wants his contract paid out.

    In regards to the previous thread, would you want Mourinho, I am still undecided. But a good question we should all ask ourselves: Who is the best manager currently available? It’s not only Mourinho, but by an absolute country mile!

    What fans do not seem to realize, is that he’s the perfect candidate. As much as we all love seeing attacking football, it’s our defending that has cost us for about a decade now. And it’s only getting worse. We need a cultural change. I thought it would happen this summer, but we spent huge on yet another attacker, and brought in a rubbish CB in Luiz. It’s not to say our defense cannot improve with an attacking manager (as it cannot get any worse), but I think we need someone in charge, who’s priority is defending.

    Not only does Mourinho have the defensive mindset we so badly need, he’s also very decisive. He’s a proper leader, who will strengthen our mentality as well. He’ll probably be more determined than ever in his career, knowing that most of us will not be happy with his appointment. He’ll so badly want to prove us wrong. Even though things usually implode for him after 2/3 seasons, we’ll probably still get at least two great seasons from him. And when was the last time we had a great season? I think he lives in London, and he has vast experience in our league, so there would be no adapting issues to worry about.

    The big draw back is the amount of promising youngsters we have currently emerging at Arsenal. Mourinho usually goes for experienced players, so will they get much of a look in? Then it’s the finances. The new regime are already far better in this area than the previous one, but Mourinho likes to spent a lot. We will have money to spend, but can he deliver on a smaller budget than he’s used to.

    Because of everything that went on with Mourinho, and Wenger, and Mourinho’s character in general, I am not so sure I want him. But would he instantly improve us, and take us to levels we haven’t seen for almost 15 years…yes! That’s the dilemma.

    1. the problem with mourinho aside from the obvious hate the fans have for him with his constant disrespect of wenger is that the one thing he was good at; building strong defence no longer exist. his defence, linkup play at man utd was horrible.

      1. I just don’t know why because of the circumstance fans are even thinking of replacing Emery with a stale coach. Are there no better option?
        Maybe, just maybe, a certain Spaniard called Arteta wouldn’t have been worse.

    2. My worry is simple would mou improve us ,I think immediately he will improve us however, when he leaves and he will he usually leave clubs in a tight mess

      For me it’s Rogers

  4. please we are wasting time get Mourinho and immediately he will get us coulibaly of Napoli, we can his transfer fee for 10 years who cares. Am tired of Emery discussion

  5. Ever consider maybe Pepe picked up a bug or slight knock that meant he wouldn’t be 100%?

    I don’t know why Saka was brought on instead nor do I necessarily agree with it, but we all thought Emery was wrong for not playing Bellerin, Holding and KT in the PL as soon as they were fit, yet we were proved wrong ourselves when they showed their rustiness in the UEL 🤷‍♂️
    Emery knows the players far better than we do, maybe he actually has legitimate reasons for his choices.

  6. In Arsenal’s last 18 Premier League games, Aubameyang has scored 13 goals. The next highest scorers during that period are David Luiz, Sokratis and Lacazette – who have all got just two apiece.

    Emery’s side have now won just two of their last nine Premier League games and could end the weekend six points adrift of the top four. During that period they have scored 13 goals and conceded 14, with just three of their last eight goals coming from open play.

    If it wasn’t for Aubameyang bailing them out each week, this team could be looking over their shoulder at relegation rather than still harbouring hopes of challenging for a Champions League spot.

    Emery turns my dear Arsenal into a relegation team. Thanks to Aubu for keeping the hope alive.

    1. I never understand this “if” argument. If it wasn’t for Aubameyang? If it wasn’t for Guardiola City too would possibly have not won the league last season. If it wasn’t for Salah and Mane, Liverpool would have struggled. If if if if is irrelevant.

  7. Quantock Dream.

    If it weren’t for Emery we should be second on the table by now.

    Sometimes IF can be relevant

  8. Brining Lacazette and Torerria off lost is control of the game, Laca is very good at holding the ball up with his back to goal allowing other players to join the attack. Torerria the same but added a slight shield for the defence as well as making late runs. Too many jogged after loos g the ball and didnt see the danger Guendouzi had a good game but on occasions also did this.

    Saka apart from a few mazy runs didn’t help defend at all. There was no real urgency in the last 20 minutes either. The lose was partly Emery’s fault but the players were also to blame .

  9. I don’t like having a go when I have benefit of hindsight but I have to say something, why Lacazette came off instead of one of the playmakers I can’t figure out. Ozil would stay on if I had the decision with Ceballos coming off, Ozil behind Martinelli and the other two, it didn’t look right our shape. Also thought Willock would come on with how easily they reached our back four without having a challenge or having to change direction – going out wide instead. Torreira I’d keep on too, I’d also take Ceballos off for him if not Dani then have a look at strikers see if one of them could ..and push Ozil central with two wide forwards – like Liv front three.

    When Xhaka doesn’t play, they get runs at our CB’s without having a midfielder to challenge them, much too regularly. Xhaka just sits but at least it’s another big guy to go round before you take on CB’s or pull CB’s out of position. Wrighty mentioned something about it, different conclusion though. Guendouzi I hope can learn that game but he’s not there yet, different type of player. Torreira was prob our best attacking player yesterday, and even when you tell him to stay deeper, he is an attacking type of defender, he chases like Ramsey did and it can leave space behind, if no Arsenal player is watching that space then the opposition can run a mock in it. This is why Xhaka and Torriera were our best two last season.

    I think I’d rather see Chambers in CDM when Xhaka’s not there. Himself and Torriera.

    We’ve made a lot of change to the team over two windows now, if Emery chops and changes too much it just sets the clock back, players are already finding it difficult to feel the chemistry, need to get a winning team back and try sticking to it, have a look at what we done last season instead of chopping and changing. Those long winning runs are what puts teams in pole position, chopping and changing rarely ever gets those runs up. Come on lads, you are a great bunch of players, some real quality in that line-up, need to go with your own instincts more just like the Invincibles did, they brought whatever Wenger was missing and adopted parts they knew Wenger was right with, also ignored stuff they knew he was wrong with, you guys need to do the same like Per Mertesacker tried to do a couple of times but we didn’t have the right forwards.

  10. Defense – we keep on about our poor defense.

    Priority Number 1)
    The biggest problem in my view is our porous midfield. I have said this before, but I believe Arsenal need a big strong midfielder, who can win headers and put it about a bit,or someone like Ngolo Kante who can harry and slow down opponents breaks.

    Priority Number 2)

    We need a “goalkeeper”. Sadly Leno is little more than a shot blocker. As good an attribute as that is for a keeper, to be a Cech or a Seaman you need much more. Such as presence, command of the penalty area, ability to start plays not just pass to a teammate 3 yards away, AND organization of the defense.

    Priority 3)

    This Arsenal side is made up of very average players. But for Aubameyang’s goals, Arsenal would be in the lower half of the table. Just like Manchester United, Arsenal need to buy one or two top top players in each window.

    BUT, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment still need to pay off the loan taken to buy the rest of the Arsenal shares, and the overrun on the LA Ram’s stadium.

    Consequently, I cannot see us buying one top class player, let alone two in the up-coming transfer windows.

    I can see Bama leaving at the end of this season, so Arsenal fans, gird your loins and get ready to watch mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

    1. JW you do realise that there are two ways to rebuild – buy top drawer talent across the board or buy into potential and that we have seriously hedged our bets on potential right?

      Priority 1 – big strong midfielder who can win headers and put it about a bit – well closest we have is Xhaka but the potential in Willock and Guendouzi
      Kante like? Well we do have Torreira and also potential for that terrier like quality in Ceballos etc

      Priority 2 – Leno and Martinez both have the potential to grow into the role more and both are hampered by relying on such a weak defense.

      Priority 3 – we are not filled with average players, we are filled with a lot of promising young talent that is getting better and better the more they play (and they get a fair chunk of game time under Emery) but potential takes time to come to fruit.

      More marquee signings will come but only where we deem it necessary – I think a top drawer CB is probably next on the list unless Holding rediscovers his pre injury form.

      1. MadHatter, there is another way to rebuild.

        1..Play your inform players – Bellerin, Chambers
        2. Play your inform players in their strongest position – Torerria
        3. Play to a system on a regular basis – we haven’t had one for eighteen months.
        4. Play to win, not play to defend.
        5. Play your substitutes correctly – kolasinac on for 3 minutes when we need to score.
        6. Play your younger players correctly – saka was like a lion to the slaughter.

        ozziegunner, one left of the four game preciction I made under UE and it seems my predictions will be spot on – what a complete disaster this coach is.

  11. Ken that’s not so much about how you rebuild as it is management style imo but either way in reply:

    1 – who are we to decide who is ‘inform’? Bellerin went from looking rusty before to looking good when he played last but are you sure he could handle another 90 so soon? Chambers was played 🤷‍♂️

    2 – many say this and I don’t necessarily disagree but two things – one, there is a trend for the tough tacklers to be played further forward since VAR and two, loads of people who say this about Torreira are also the ones saying Auba should be played out wide instead of in his position as striker, or that Martinelli and others are wrong and he shouldn’t be played out wide as he’s a CF not a winger – why is it OK to move some players positions but not others?

    3 – actually his tinkering with formations is slowly coming to an end imo – 4312 when he wants us to sit deep and counter and a 4231/4411 when he wants us pushing forward – players may change but those are the main formations he seems to be settling on.

    4 – and what about when that doesn’t work? We missed 4th by a point last season – what’s better whilst we are still getting things right 1 point or 0? We have been playing poor and are still in 5th – United and Tottenham are playing poor and are in 10th and 11th – Leicester and Chelsea have been playing well as have City (poor for them but still good football) yet we have only lost the same number of games as them whilst playing poor 🤷‍♂️
    If this is our worst as you and many others believe that means our worst is better than 15 other teams are managing, what’s its gonna be like if it does all finally click together? 🤔

    5 – KT was looking knackered towards the end, with them pushing hard maybe he wanted fresh legs and muscle to keep out Traore who knows.

    6. Saka was a poor fit I agree, but he is better at tracking back then Pepe (he’s improving and not a diss on him) so maybe that’s why he got the nod, maybe Pepe picked up a small illness and wasn’t 100%, maybe he picked up a knock – many potential reasons for why he made the choice he did 🤷‍♂️

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