There was just a small sign on Monday night that Gooners are getting tired of making excuses for Pepe. He has broken his duck for us, but let’s be honest we were expecting more than one penalty going into October. Essentially you pay 72 million for a talent to win games at Old Trafford, yet Unai Emery chose to keep Saka on ahead of him.
Wherever it’s adapting to the physical nature of our League, learning a new language, etc, at the moment the winger is trying to force things. Yet our history shows some of the greatest ever players to ever wear our shirt start slowly. Indeed, if we gave up on everyone after their first two months, we might not have seen the legends they would become.
Below is our top 10 Prem goal scorers, comparing how quickly they got off the mark (sorry Pepe, penalties don’t count). This might cheer Pepe up a bit…
Adebayor – 46- Scored on Prem debut.
Don’t worry will very soon be knocked out of our top 10 by fellow African Aubameyang. He was brought in the winter of 2006 to get him ready for the following season. As Arsene Wenger increasingly prioritised our route to the Champion’s League Final, he gave the Togo striker game time quicker than he planned due to him being ineligible to play in Europe. He took his chance scoring 21 minutes into his debut against Birmingham. When Henry left he became our main man in front of goal, but this was simply a sign of things to come. Good form would earn decent contracts at which point he would go missing. Has become very rich but could have been so much more.
Ljungberg 46- Scored on his debut
One of Arsene Wenger’s best pieces of business signing our current assistant manager for just 3 million in September 1998. While some would have been familiar with his exploits for Sweden against England, there was no pressure on him to start as well as he did, scoring against Manchester United soon after coming on as a sub. His tendency to score crucial goals made his him a cult favourite at Arsenal, especially when he stepped up after Pires got injured to carry us to the Double in 2002. His understanding with Bergkamp was crucial to our most successful period in our history. Could he be our next manager?
Sanchez – 53 – Scored first Prem goal in his second game
For so long it seemed like he would go on to become a Prem legend, getting over 50 goals for us in fairly quick order. Not the leader we needed him to be though, his body language poor at a time when our young dressing room needed confidence. After 3 great seasons, the assumption was he was sulking in his final few months for us based on not wanting to be at the Emirates anymore. Yet he’s been such a flop at Man United it’s left many asking what’s happened to the man mentally. Is now being paid lots of money to play in Italy where he’s trying to rebuild his career
Pires – 62- Took 8 games to score first Prem goal
In what you hope is parallels to Pepe, Pires needed time to adapt to the physical nature of English Football. Once he found his confidence though, he was suddenly showing amazing movement off the ball, him and Freddie often popping up all over the place. His understanding with Cole and Henry on our left side was instrumental to greatest period in our history. Now coaching at Arsenal, so can show empathy to Pepe.
Theo Walcott – 65- Didn’t score a Prem goal till his 35th attempt.
By the time the teenager scored his first Prem goal we knew a lot about him; too much probably! Arsene Wenger’s attempt to keep him out of the limelight were ruined by England taking him to the World Cup, despite the 16-year-old yet to kick a ball for us. By this point had scored in cups but in the League was mostly used as our super sub, with his pace a great weapon to use late on, hence statistics are a bit misleading. Theo always had ambitions to be our central striker and even refused to extend his contract over the issue. The reality was he didn’t have the footballing brain for the role, especially when we started to play 1 up front. The man himself would admit to being too nice and needing to find a mean streak. Despite scoring over 100 goals for the Gunners, the consensus is that he didn’t develop like he should have. One of many who grew too comfortable under Mr Wenger, hence the need for a fresh challenge at Everton, although it hasn’t happened for him yet at Goodison.
Giroud – 73 goals – Took 7 games to score first Prem goal
Some gooners might remember a sitter he missed on his debut but that sums up the Frenchmen perfectly. He could miss some easy chances yet score some worldies. Divides opinion but in my opinion he is underrated, it’s not his fault the club never had the ambition to buy someone to play up front with him. Oli was the best plan B in the Prem, and to me we didn’t notice what we had till he was gone. Would love to still have him as an option from the bench
Bergkamp – 83- 7 games till first Prem goal
This should raise Pepe’s spirits. One of the greatest players we ever had, had to wait 7 games for his first goal, which combined with his struggles in Italy left many wondering if he had lost his magic touch? The reality was the Dutchmen was never a great goal scorer but simply a scorer of great goals.ñ
Van Persie – 96- took 6 games to score first Prem goal
Would have scored more if not for fitness issues, which is why many gooners view him as disloyal for leaving us. Almost single-handedly carried one of our worst ever squads into the top 4, but that was the only time in 8 years he had stayed injury free. Whisper it quietly he didn’t say anything about our lack of ambition which many gooners haven’t already said, and the owners are yet to prove him wrong.
Ian Wright – 128 (including old First Division) scored hat trick on League Debut
Just a natural born goal scorer but seemed to appreciate it that little bit more due to being late to turn professional. Perhaps it was because he didn’t take it for granted that made him so identifiable with Gooners. Few talk about ‘the Arsenal’ as fondly as the striker, who would tell stories about staying up late round David Rocastle’s house and hearing stories about ‘The Arsenal’
In 1998 became our greatest ever scorer, celebrating by unveiling the Nike, ‘Just Done It shirt’ which famously he was premature in displaying. Ironically he got the title medal he craved in his lowest scoring campaign for us.
Thierry Henry 174 – took 8 games to score first Prem goal
Perhaps Arsene Wenger’s greatest tactical move was convincing Henry to make the transition from a winger to a striker. The Frenchmen had just won the World Cup on the left so didn’t understand why he was being asked to learn a new position, with his manager having seen something in him while a youngster at Monaco. As Henry continued to fluff his lines, the more he sulked that he didn’t want to be a striker, our ex-boss showing amazing man-management to keep believing in him even when fans and teammates were left baffled by some of the misses he was producing. His first goal was a wonder goal against Southampton. The rest, as they say, is history….