Pepe’s MOTM performance proves Arteta’s man-management skills

Arteta Man-Manages Pepe To Perfection! By Dan Smith

After his moment of madness at Elland Road, many were waiting to if there would be a reaction from Pepe. If the winger had gone through the motions in Norway, we would have spoken about Arteta’s failures to man-manage our record signing.

Some assumed that’s what would happen, the midfielder putting his head down, feeling sorry for himself. That would have been the narrative after every wild shot he smashed wide in the first half. We would have added him to a concerning long list of names our manager has given up on.
So it’s only correct we point out a positive individual display.

Against Molde, Pepe scored in a man of the match performance. To do that just three days after a red card would have taken world class man management. Already struggling with his confidence, the Ivorian’s sending off was largely responsible for the dropped points at Leeds.

His boss wasn’t shy in saying his actions were ‘unacceptable’.

Since then he’s been subjected to racial abuse online.

The saddest part of that is in 2020, a player getting racially abused is no longer newsworthy or turns heads. It’s like we have accepted that’s the culture we live in.

So for him to demand the ball as much as did yesterday and try to make things happen, suggest he might have a stronger mentality then we thought.

Areta’s reputation needed this as well.

Some will say it’s only Molde, but the coach (still learning in his rookie year) has shown he can tell a talent when he’s wrong, but within a few days give out the support to get a response.

Some thought the Spaniard might have left the African at home for Thursday’s trip. Others went as far as to say the club will listen to offers in January.

This track record comes from giving up on the likes of Ozil, Guendouzi, Sokratis and, to an extent, Saliba. That contradicts what his reputation at Man City was where his strength was said to be his 1-1 coaching.

Yet at the Emirates he’s asking the club to pay a lot of money for talent to sit at home.

Ozil though, I maintain is for non-footballing reasons. Having failed to sell a centre back one had to be dropped, hence Sokratis. Saliba, to be fair, may be based more on personal reasons than professional.

Freezing out Pepe would have been wrong and counterproductive. I’m not sure he speaks English, he’s away from his family and just seems to have lost his smile.

Effective leadership is knowing when the time is to be hard and when to be soft. By the time he went to training on Tuesday, the poor lad had been blamed enough.

His poor discipline can’t be compared to Guendouzi. Guendouzi’s initial response to lose to Brighton was to boast about his salary. I can understand how that shows a side to someone’s character you can’t work with.

Pepe on the other hand, while inexcusable, his actions were in the confines of a match, it happens. He also apologized, something Guendouzi apparently refused to do.

Many were starting to even accuse our manager of having favourites, questioning why he was so critical of Pepe, but not to others who have underperformed.

Of course the answer is there is a major difference between someone not playing well, to someone pushing their head into an opponent when VAR is watching.

Would you have been happier if he did a Arsene Wenger and ‘didn’t see it’?

Arteta showed his disappointment on the Sunday, but by the Thursday had Pepe producing his best performance of the season.

It might turn out to be a crucial week in the 25-year old’s footballing education?
Pepe showed some character after adversity. Too many were quick to assume he and his boss didn’t have that character.

I think both the player and the manager needed that?

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

Tags Arteta Molde Pepe


  1. Nicolas Pépé for Arsenal vs. Molde:
    ◉ Most touches (80)
    ◉ Most crosses (12)
    ◉ Most touches in opp. box (11)
    ◉ Most take-ons completed (9) (!)
    ◉ Most shots (6)
    ◉ Most chances created (4)
    = Most shots on target (2)
    And a goal!!!
    Just the job – more of the same please!

    1. Sue, just got in and catching up with the JA news.
      Great stats you have reproduced – these and Dan’s excellent article, just shows how those who continually write our players off, need to be more patient.

      I would also add that we should recognise the mental strength of Pepe himself.

      After the grilling and personal abuse he got, following his sending off, to come back and play the way he did, says volumes of the player.
      Let’s hope he can go forward now and, with the support of MA and the fans, we might just see the player we expected.

    2. IT’S a smaller team he needs to show it in the big games and he better start soon or he will be gone FULL STOP

    3. Sue: Good stats.
      The main difference between this game and other games Pepe played is the amount of space he was operating under. He was free to roam and execute at will. I hope MA notices the difference and make that part of his game plans in the future. Pepe is not the type of player who can operate in tight spaces. When pressured he gets confused and looses the ball. Maybe MA should make him the outlet for counterattack just like Vardy.

      1. Nice one, Icw… ooh imagine that? He’d be up the other end in a flash!
        In all competitions, he has the most goal involvements – 6 (4G 2A)…

      2. Not a very good resume for Pepe, lcm, you’ve highlighted some of his serious limitations. However I also agree with your proposition the he should be better utilised and play to his strengths. His transfer value alone would have been worth three or four times that of the opposition’s so a half decent performance was a Must. In any case Arsenal need him to come good because he is one of our few attacking options.

    4. Great Stats Sue. Gives me something to ponder on about these players. Who would have thought Pepe could do what he did yesterday? It shows these players have what it takes to put in excellent performances consistently but there’s a lack of intensity. They just don’t try hard enough. It took Pepe a red card and fans backlash to get him to produce a MOTM display when it seemed his Arsenal career was being threatened. Kudos to him though for turning it into a positive, can’t say the same for some other players,, they’re just way too comfortable in mediocrity, they could really use this kind of pepe’s kick up the arse. Although I’m not in support of the online racial abuses he got.

      1. Bang on, Kstix, he pulled it out of the bag when he really needed to, so why not when the pressure isn’t on!!? More consistency needed not just from Pepe, but others also, to end this bloody drought!!!
        I’ll put my boots on ready to kick some ass – that’ll be on target 😂

        Yeah I’m with you on that 👎☹

  2. I love this article dan, the truth so many players will still continue feeling sorry for themselves but that says alot about his mindset. Have always said it that Pepe is a good player he just need to find that consistency.

  3. Dan…

    A nice piece!

    Inasmuch as many would have assumed that Arteta may have punished Pepe further, I feel it was obvious that he wouldn’t have done so. I am also convinced that it was Arteta who told Pepe to apologise (my opinion), which he similarly advised in the Guendouzi’s case, and Pepe adhered, while the latter did not. It speaks a lot about an individual’s character, which has translated to success in Pepe’s case.

    Life has a lot to do with attitude and character, many a place where talent alone will not get you. I strongly believe these are the non-footballing reasons you may have alluded too…

    Overall, I am so glad it worked out well last night for the team and for Arteta. His formation is gradually evolving and I can only imagine Partey in the 4-4-2 system.

    Another lovely article Dan!


  4. Hope hé Will perform same in league as well…
    And if he doesn’t then it will interesting to see what people will say about MA’s man management skills then..
    Because we have witnessed in past so many times that some player perform world class in one game and in very next game he doesn’t.

    1. Kedar, while agreeing with you point about having a consistent performance, I don’t see how MA’s man management skills can rectify that side of any players game.

      Of course he can support the player after both excellent and indifferent performances, but it is down to said player to perform on a regular basis – if not, surely he has to be dropped.

  5. Pepe needs to play more central, like he did against molde fc , he’s a waste playing From the rear,

    We also need this teenagers in the games for daring runs which can only bring about creativity and opportunities.

    Hopefully we’ll see balogun, Smith’s Rowe, Nelson , Niles and Willock

  6. This is the whole truth, we have been giving to much opportunities to the wrong player nketiah. The real talent who deserves the honour is balogun , a far better player than nketiah. Some of you think nketiah is still 16 yrs old. My goodness!!!! He is already 21 yrs, and then you realize rashford is just 23yrs and oozing the talent. But arteta prefers nketiah to martinelli and balogun who are both 19yrs and are already dangerous strikers.

    1. For me Nkethia is too selfish and not a good team player (I might be wrong but it is what I have been feeling). Balogun seems to be more calm and confident with the ball. His touch, turn and shoot instinct was good to see as we lack that currently in the squad.

    2. Spot on. From what I have seen Nketiah will likely not become the striker Arteta is hoping he will turn into. People have quickly forgotten he was not deemed good enough for Leeds in the Championship last season. It’s time to give Balogun a chance. Let him become the Balogunner we hope he can be.

  7. Yesterday’s performance would certainly be a confidence booster for both Pepe and Arteta but . . .

    1. Again we were a one half team (first half was too boring)
    2. Pepe was robbed off too easily in many occasions
    3. Pepe needs to show a consistent level of performance in the league.

    I still doubt whether he is premier league quality. This should be his make or break season. His decision making is causing him all those problems.

  8. Pepe must play the way he played yesterday, more regularly, he has got real talent but only lacks in application. He should play more centrally since he can take his shots better from that position. Also I feel that MA should give more opportunities to youngsters like Balogun, Nelson, ESR and Willock, in the PL fixtures. They are more committed, hard working and give their all for the shirt.

  9. Completely agree wth the theme of the article Mr. Dan! Pepe made me eat my words with that performance, and I will gladly become fat for these performances… speaks volumes about the way MA works with players.

  10. It shows two things IMO

    1 – Arteta is a decent man manager
    2 – Pepe is not at an EPL level (yet)

    He usually looks pretty good against ‘lesser’ opposition

    1. Or you can say slow and less physical European side..
      EPL is fast footballing league… And much more physical than other European leagues…
      Pépé Shined in Lille because again weak opponents and slow and least physical teams..

  11. I liked what he was doing last night, beating his man by playing give and goes with Cedric and Willock. I don’t think he’ll be able to dribble past as many defenders in the PL as he did last night, so he needs to get confident with playing quickly around the box.

  12. Here we go again we played agisnt a team who would be at best in championship in England. So now all of a sudden pepe has turned into an amazing player n Arteta best manager ever…hahaha…this is exactly what we do with our avg youngsters we play them in useless friendlies then against some small country league team then we hype them up to be some sort of next best thing coming out in football only to realise they are avg when we play them against quality opposition or even mid to lower league teams. Pepe has been utter useless since he has joined if you consider the amount of money we paid for him now he performed against a small Norwegian team and all of sudden he is the go to man and Arteta is being boosted as some hero for winning against a poor opposition.

    1. Mohsan

      I must agree with you that the quality of the opposition was not premiership standard in the sense and you do not agree that Pepe should be hyped as well as our youngsters, which is correct.

      However, yesterday’s game was clearly not about being back to the expected standards, instead it was about gaining and restoring some confidence in the players and in their ability to score and win. Even the fans themselves needed such a win as many were toxic even before kickoff. The team has gone through a dip and every source of confidence should be highly welcomed.

      These guys are human beings and stringing a series of wins may be all they need to believe again in themselves. Let’s remain positive and give them some benefit of the doubt.


    2. Mohsan, The classic troll, posing as a Gooner! It is thefact that you NEVER write anythingpositve about the club you CLAIM to support that make me think you are not a Gooner at all but a troll.

      Prove me wrong if you wish, by actually saying something positive about Arsenal for a change. IF you do that I MIGHT change my opinion! True supporters do actually support and that is why they are called supporters; those who only EVER criticise are generally trolls.

      1. Jon…

        It seems you took a break from the many voices, often inflamed and negative, screaming around JA! It is good to read from you again!

        Following in your thoughts, I would presume that criticism can both be applied from a positive and negative dimension. I am more worried about those who tow the path of negativism. Many are applied without a desire to ensure progress…

        Nevertheless, I am convinced many will soon join the trail of positivity that I strongly sense approaching the Emirates. As you typically say, I hope they spare the time needed to reap such positive fruits…

        Again, let’s keep sharing the spirit of positivity as always!


  13. Jon my friend, I always read and enjoy your posts and views, even though we disagree sometimes.

    I remember quite clearly how you used to blast, on a regular basis, ex managers and “dross” players.

    I agree Mohsan is quite negative at times, but to call him a troll is a bit OTT in my opinion.

    Watched a programme with Dangote recently and it seems his latest venture is about to be completed – it will be interesting to see if he now follows up with his plan to buy out kronkie!!!

    1. KEN Always good to read your posts and I expect you can work out WHY I called Mohsan a troll. I have many times said to you and others not to implicitly believe as gospel all you hear or read. People use tactics and ironically I have often “accused” you of using tactics on occasion.

      Some wiser heads prefer to find more than one way of skinning a cat so to speak. I am sure you can read through theprecise words that I gave chosen to usein that post and also chosen NOT to use! There aretimes to use plain speaking and other times when tactical speech works better. Instinctively, wiser heads kno when and which to use, I suggest.
      On Dangote, I’d love to know what WAS the programme you watched and – bearing in mind the worlds less demand for oil since Covid- how much this means to Gooners, in terms of a Dangote serious bid to buy us out from the “monster”!
      Will you be in the ticket ballot when Scotland finally allows it?

  14. Jon, I have decided not to enter the ballot, simply because of my wife (diabetes type 1) and the 18 hour round trip… Scotland
    to England and not sure if that will be possible either.

    As for Dangote, it was on CNN and covering all of the covid 19 situations in his country… not sure if you can find it now, but he seemed very confident about the future and comes across as a good, genuine person.

    I wonder how our Gooner friends in Nigeria view him?

    As for trolls and trolling, what on earth did we call them decades ago… if, in fact, they ever existed!!!

    1. KEN sounds hopeful then on Dangote. Just imagine the outbreak of joy among Gooners if he bought us out! No more Kroenke would almost like recovering intact from the plague(far worse than Covid). If this happens we would become almost a Nigerian club in some respects, though you could argue we are already a sizeable minority percentage Nigerian, in fans.

      Trolls of course are mythical, mostly Norwegian, stone and cave dwelling creatures often killed by sunlight and appearing in Scandinavian folklore. Social media age was the mother of trolls as WE understand them though.

      1. Don’t forget those that lurk under bridges demanding a fee to cross. It always bring Monty Python to mind with me and their “Quest for the Holy Grail” version.
        If only social trolls were as easily tricked and removed like in the film.

    2. Ken Dangote is a very business driven person, just like Stan, he’s very business oriented.
      Though the good side of this is that, unlike Stan, Dangote invests in his companies a lot. The man has sometimes been described as the most greediest African because of his ability to dive in different market and come out thriving owning it.
      For some, Dangote started out as a businessman who mainly focused on Cements production.
      The man under a year went into Mills and Flour, Sugar & Salt, Pastry and Foods and he’s overtaken that market too in Africa.
      It’s why it’s now called the Dangote Group.
      I think buying Arsenal might be some sort of trophy to him, and at first he’ll really invest into the team. He will only continue investing if his investments yields returns, which means, none of those wasteful buys and losing wrong handling of players.
      If he invests and Arsenal goes on to do well in his first few years, he’ll continue investing his money into the team.
      I hope that helps a bit at least

      1. Ohz I forgot to add, after conquering all of those markets I listed, he’s gone into Oil now. Which is why his current project wis ongoing.
        He’ll own the only working Refineries in Nigeria I think?
        That would definitely generate ridiculous amounts of money for the man.
        Like I said, I’ve seen and read people describe him as greedy because he definitely wants his hand in everything.
        Its no wonder the next thing he’s looking to go into is football and owning Arsenal.
        Is it really greed and trying to have it all?
        I guess we’ll all see if differently

        1. Thanks for this Eddie and in the interview on CNN I watched, he seemed a very laid back, but focused individual.

          Interesting to note that he also diversifies his business activities, unlike Silent Stan.

          Also, from what I have discovered on the internet is, just like kronkie, the corona virus seems to have benefited his wealth, rather than having an adverse effect.

          His long term aim of owning our club as a fan, seems a dream come true , let’s hope his wish comes true – although I have to say, kronkie cannot be accused of not putting money our way since AW left the club.

          1. Ken some interesting info from you and also from Eddie on Dangote. I simply cannot imagine a man such as he appears to be being “laid back” though. He may be personable but that is not the same as laid back and no multi billionaire ever gets to be that rich and cleary driven by being laid back.

            IF he actually cares for his businesses and gets as deeply invilved as Eddie is saying, then roll on him buying us out from the silent monster.

  15. Wow that was some details eddie, am a nigerian though and must say that the gunners fanbase had declined over the years as many had jumped ship to barca mainly while keeping an eye on their root….chelsea has the largest fanbase in nigeria followed by man utd, liverpool and arsenal shares the meager left over percentage which is less than 17 percent!

    Sure enough should the world’s wealthiest man take over arsenal, he would be ripping his football crazy country apart. …..i mean scoop millions from nigeria fanbase before the rest of the world as am yet to know an african nation that buys sports merchandise directly from clubs than naija

    1. Mish, But its only his skin that is black, which is a mere detail of no relevance at all. Had he got a black HEART, like Kroenke has, THEN we all SHOULD worry.

  16. Bang on, Kstix. He pulled it out of the bag when he really had to, so please do it when the pressure isn’t on.. we need more consistency, not only from him, but others also…
    I’m with you on that, Kstix 👍☹

  17. We won’t be seeing Pepe in the PL until the Southampton match, shame… Some game time for Reiss Nelson hopefully 🔴⚪

  18. I disagree, for a change mate.

    Starts by a top header from Pepé, seing red as pepper was Arteta quoting it “nnaceptable”.

    Pépé apologized which closed chapter even tho we saw many articles & comments.; suggesting to simply get rid of that useless player, a waist of money!

    Anyway; he cost 80M and already shooting himself by not having Ozil, club had to cool it off…

    Arteta as any coach in his right mind will playhim to help this go by…

    He certainly wont play in EPL and to do so in EL saves money he costs.

    Against a laim & weaken Molde, no first team players, he thakfully showed he can be Motm even tho i will give it to a youngster who won us this game!

    i wrote here before game, confident they would do so…

    No biggie; but what comes next and after is.

    Glad Arteta played Luiz, he wont do so in EPL, took Luiz injury for him to see we had better CBs to pair.

    But, didnt get Willian was same as Luiz, rested him to play sunday as most first team…

    Unfortunatly, once a piece is misssing or is wrong; puzzle can’t be right.

    It is no way to be convinced of a win sunday that way…

    We never win over 2 to 3 games in a row in EPL for a year.

    9games :1 draw, and 4 win deleted by 4 lost.

    Average this season then; is a lost for a win.

    Thats innaceptable! And who cares for Molde win, great for B team.

    Reality check is on sunday, no Pepe to save us will be reason for next lost im sure ..

    No, he will play Willian as RW, not sure Partey okay, hope so, obviously Elneny will be associated. Maybe Xhaka above them, Ceballos most likely, finally.

    Nelson clearly showed how of a better option he is than Willian.

    Why have all these houng lads waisted on bdnch kn EPL?

    Send them on loan before they run on first opportunity they have to play every week end Bellogun looks at Willock, Rowe, even more so Niles 2yeqrs now; a waist or used as a wing defender…

    As soon he moved to middle, he was massive as Willock , Rowe as well.

    Let them go back to germany Nelson was shining over a year ago, always involved in first team, emulating & tapped there as next Sancho.

    hasn’t started 3 games in past 50 EPL games! That is a waist, zero game fof Willock this season!

    hope it changes…

  19. Moguna, i think MA Might likely sitout willian for the wolves game.

    I mean he never hesitated subbing him on the hour mark at elland, last week.

    Mikel is a stern coach and rewards performances for chances, i see a mixture of willok, nelson and perhabs niles taking the places of willian, bellerin and dani, as we need faster and more motivated players to hunt down, nuno’s erractic pack of wolves evading emirate

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