“Looking at body language, how badly the lad wants to succeed” Pepe accused of not wanting to succeed at Arsenal

Alan Smith has blasted Nicolas Pepe for not wanting to succeed at Arsenal bad enough despite being signed for a ridiculous sum.

The Ivorian was signed from Lille in the summer of 2019 for £72 million, and he was expected to replicate the form that he showed in the French side.

This is his second season at the Emirates and he is yet to show the form that saw him score more than 20 goals for Lille in his final Ligue 1 campaign.

He has been criticised for his performances at the club, and Mikel Arteta has even played the underperforming Willian ahead of him.

Smith says that the attacker isn’t showing us how good he can be and his body language isn’t that of someone who wants to succeed at Arsenal as bad as he should.

He also spoke about Willian and said the Brazilian has already shown his class in the Premier League and only needs to get back to form.

The former Gunners striker told the Evening Standard: “We don’t actually know how good Pepe can become.

“Bought for a ridiculous sum (well done, Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal’s former head of football), the winger has yet to prove he can replicate his Lille form in red and white. Going further, you do have to wonder, looking at body language, how badly the lad wants to succeed.

“Willian is different. With an excellent track record at Chelsea, we know he has the ability to influence games.

“Arsenal’s coaching staff, in turn, were expecting him to elevate the side, turn it back into a top-four outfit. So far, it has been the opposite. But that doesn’t mean the Brazilian can’t come again in a side energised by youth and better results.

“That can easily happen. Just as talent can inspire, hard work and enthusiasm often prove infectious. If your team-mate alongside is busting a gut, you tend to follow suit out of support.”

Tags Alan Smith Nicolas Pepe Willian


  1. This is honestly quite odd. For one to say Pepe isn’t trying? Did they watch the game against Newcastle? Which of our attackers showed as much impetus as he did? The reason he missed shots is because he tried to shoot. I actually took a few match notes as I was watching, and I’ll tell you this. Out of all his shots, Some (like in the 4th minute) were a result of a lack of passing options after he beat his man. I feel like if he had scored, then people would have noticed his good work, but is that how we should analyze a game?

    1. most fans dont watch games but comment based on media and fans critic….

      Pepe workshard and he did well

      the team is new and new players coming into the first team…

        1. Agree. If he turns the ball over it’s for assertive and aggressive reasons that is best suited to his talent

        2. i think thats another side to the story, probably he is trying to impress which is not suited to his pattern of play. he need to calm down and enjoy his game. he seems to do too much without result

        3. 100% agree. Think he’s so desperate to impress he beats himself. He always looks in two minds whether to pass or run with the ball and that allows defenders to get too.close

    2. Joel his positioning and understanding of the rhythm yesterday was bad, each time his teammates pass to him you have this feeling he was going to lose it or he would have run ahead of the pass or caught flatfooted(this i see as a result of his laziness/or maybe match rust in his defence), he need to readjust, he has potential, he has quality he needs to incorporate these attribute into a good output to become a player he wants to be

  2. We simply don’t know how to use Pepe. He is most effective when rotated across the front line – on the left wing and at centre. Today we was played entirely as an inverted right-winger. As a result, the entire front line was predictable and less effective for most of the game.

  3. Agreed I thought he had a good game , it looks like he’s destined to be labelled as a flop because of his price tag ,shame really as his stats last season was better than any winger we have had for the 10 years .

    1. Dan, for people to criticize his first season in the EPL as “poor” given his goals and assists, I wonder what they watched and what they expected.
      By the way, I am still waiting for you to nominate all the responses I made, sagging off Arsene Wenger, I think you have me mixed up with someone else.

  4. It’s simple, Pepe is one of those “too cool for school” players, who never wants to look like he’s trying too hard…that might have worked in Ligue 1, but it ain’t going to fly in the Premiership…it’s too bad because I think he’s got bags of potential, if he can ever get his head out of his ass…he needs some serious mentoring from a player like RVP or Robben, who both had a similar demeanor but finally figured it out…no one likes a mope, especially a highly paid one…it’s one of the reasons why Ozil was such an easy target for criticism when things weren’t clicking

    1. Because he is !back in France he was never a typical winger always drifting in the center you see it when he plays 1 2’s all he wants to do is go through the middle the way he used to do in ligue 1 but he can’t at Arsenal with Laca in his “way” we barely see our forwards interchanging places do we?

  5. Pepe had a good game. English fans will always have issues with Pepe bc of his quiet nature which they take as non chalant
    Willock wasted his lovely floting cross.

  6. I liked Pepe’s positive direct nature today. He drove at the defence made it in behind just didn’t have the end product, would have been different on another day. Football is a game of fine margins he needs to make different decisions sometimes but as the article mentions with confidence and the team performance improving his game will improve.

    Willian once again looked like he was going through the motions, I really liked him at Chelsea Busting a hit runs with the ball down the wing, dribbles around the box and making space for shots, just nothing is clicking, hopefully Arteta is right and he is improving and it’s about his confidence also.

  7. Alan Smith is of course correct . But what he observes is not exactly dificult to see, I’d suggest in all seriousness. All those wth normal eyesight can easily see that PEPE is not anywhere near determined nor even interested enough to work flat out for his place. THAT IS TOTALLY CLEAR TO ALL, OR SHOULD BE.
    But then Ozils legendary laziness SHOULD also be clear to all but is clearly not so. Sigh!
    In my boringly longterm and forceful view, NO lazy player should ever be allowed to wear our shirt ever again.


    1. Agree jon. So many people giving him passes. He’s another player not willing to work. Not willing to fight. Being taken out of a starting spot by a bunch of kids should embarrass him! He was okay yesterday but nothing more than that. many fans are too easily pleased with his dribbles that every defender seem to read and just kick the ball away from him. He’s very predictable and it’s not a coincidence we dont score when him and willian are on the pitch together. This was his chance to show Arteta he has what it takes to be a reliable guy. Unfortunately, it’s right back to the bench come next week.

  8. I still think Pepe is a good player but Arsenal is lacking confidence as a team. No player is player is playing that well at the moment.

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