Unlikely source speaks out to defend out of favour Arsenal star

Former Tottenham midfielder Danny Murphy has come out to defend Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe, who looks set to leave north London this summer.

The Ivory Coast international arrived at the Emirates for a club record fee back in 2019, but having failed to hold down a regular starting role in recent seasons, now looks set to leave for pastures new.

While many will describe Pepe as a flop, he showed plenty of ability during his time with us, but for one reason or another, the level of consistency that we needed he wasn’t able to find.

Former Spurs star Murphy has come out to defend the former Lille man, claiming his numbers in his second season were better than most.

“You have to look past this. Just on Pepe, I quite like him,” he told talkSPORT.

“He’s a talented player. But his first two seasons were alright. His second season, when he became a bit more settled, he got 16 goals in 47 games.

“That’s a lot more than a lot of players who we say are good players in the Premier League. 16 goals in 47 games is not bad. The season after, he fell away, probably because of Saka and Emile Smith Rowe coming through and taking his place.”

I can kind of understand where Murphy is coming from, but at the same time, you can’t really feel sorry for Pepe. Whilst he has mostly seemed professional, he hasn’t seemed to show as much passion and fight as his younger counterparts, who have all usurped him in the pecking order.

Do you think Pepe’s time at Arsenal would have gone differently had we paid a more reasonable fee to sign him?


Tags Danny Murphy Nicolas Pepe


  1. Wenger could’ve improved him. I fear for ESR as well. ESR was a CM till Odegaard came and Arteta pushed him to the left. Very soon we’ll lack goals from the midfield because Odegaard goals and assists are poor.

    Odegaard skills are based on short passes, pressing but he lacks dominance in the middle. Now that Arteta has made him Captain, whether average or not he plays.

    1. I don’t think Wenger would have improved Pepe, it’s a matter of attitude and application. He’s a wonderful talent as was Ozil but what was Ozils problem, never talent but attitude and application. Wenger couldn’t improve Ozils mindset to premier league standards he wouldnt have been able to do it with Pepe.

      ESR has to stop getting injured he picks up too many minor muscle injuries which interupts his playing time and availability same with Martinelli. Look at Saka hardly injured and is always a fixture in the team week in week out.

      Odegaards assisting is not poor he finished the league creating more or the same as KDB at City. Ode and KDB were top 2 chance creators in the league last year crating over 40 guilt edge chances to score. Our problem was we had nobody who could finish the chances of between Auba and Laca. So I’m not sure what team you were watching last season tbh

      1. How is it Smith faults he is getting injured? There are things you can’t control unfortunately. It’s a physiological thing. Pray he gets better

    2. Like Wenger improved the squad he left behind for Emery. Wenger is human and not some type of magician or miracle worker..
      Did you not see the squad that got him pushed out 2017/18?
      You had flops and deadweights all over the place. Why didn’t he improve them but instead they stunk the place out, got the fans nervous and unhappy culminating in fans turning on wenger and him losing his job etc..

  2. Performance and fee are not related. Fans seem to think so and pundits always start conversations about players with their transfer fees, but fees do not and never have had anything to do with ability or performance.

    Transfer value and fees paid are a composite of a player’s perceived ability, their contract status, their age, their club’s ability to retain them, and the need of any given team for a player with their characteristics.

    Phil Foden is ranked as the 4th most valuable player in the world ahead of Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane.

    Foden scored 9 league goals and delivered 5 league assists in 21/22. That puts him among the 4 or 5 best central midfielders in the Premier league; statistically, but not even in the top 10 central midfielders in the world. Sergej Malinkovic Savic scored 11 and assisted 11 for Lazio, by comparison. So why is Foden ‘worth’ more.

    First, he is English, and Premier League clubs pay a premium for home grown players. Savic is not, nor is he Italian, so he is not a homegrown player for Lazio. Second, Foden is 22 versus Savic’s 27. The rationale is, he will be good for much longer than an older player. Both are out of contract in 2024. Manchester City have no need to sell any players, ever, and can match any wage offered by any other team. Savic, by contrast was rumored to be leaving Lazio this year for a team (Arsenal for one) able to pay him more.

    Based on performance alone, Foden is not as productive as Salah, Kane, or Savic, but according to ‘value’ he is worth more.

    Arsenal paid 72 million for Pepe because it was the only way the club could get him. His numbers, on a minutes played by players in the same position basis, including Buyako Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Emil Smith Rowe, are as good or better.

    Why Pepe is not playing has nothing to so with attitude or effort. His exile is something that cannot be explained by football performance, because there is very little difference in his performance relative to Arsenal’s other wing players based on minutes played.

    Some likely explanations in order of likelihood
    1. Arsenal need to keep Saka happy or he will not resign.
    2. Pepe is not an Artetsa player, he was signed by Unai Emery
    3. His manager does not like him – When Artets takes a dislike to a player, he gets rid of him, quality and performance not withstanding.
    4. Pundits use him as to point to poor management – Pepe is a p.r. liability and Artyeta is not the kind of manager to defend his players.

    1. ARTETA by the way

      Pepe doesn’t track back or close down and press. It’s nothing to do with his end product which as you said is good and with a consistent run in the team would be excellent. He doesn’t fit the objective and playing style.

      Unai Emery didn’t even want him preferring Wilf Zaha but Palace wanted 90m in cash upfront. Where as Lille allowed us to pay a fee based of performance, appearances and objectives i.e. achieving Champions league, probably qualification from group stages, scoring and creating goals and so on. Even though this 72m get thrown around alot I bet we haven’t actually paid anywhere near that yet.

      He’s definitely a talent but doesn’t like doing the work a premier league winger has to do. Something he got away with in France

  3. Everytime I saw Pepe’s name on the roster I used to get panic attacks. I knew Arsenal was going lose the match.
    Pepe is a kind of player who killed away good attacking moves by being wasteful with the ball. Many a times the ball will be lost to the other team through him.
    Too many unnecessary dribbles which rarely produced a good move for the team. He never really improved the team when he got a chance play.

  4. Like Saka, Pepe would be far more productive on the left flank.The current obsession with playing inverted wingers is hopefully on the wane.Playing wingers on their natural side creates width for them to cross on the run and equally important it decongests the midfield area to provide space for creative players to work in..Many on this site will disagree, and the more astute will point out that attacking full backs have superseded conventional wingers.To an extent that is true, but at what cost in terms of defensive efficiency?As Liverpool are now beginning to find,their dependence on their attacking full backs is leaving them vulnerable to counter attacks .What has all this to do with Pepe you may ask.Well he was successful in a counter attacking role in France but Arsenal play a high line, possession based system which is simply not suited to Pepe’s strengths.If he is not sold or loaned out by the end of the current transfer window, I do hope Arteta gives Pepe an opportunity to play as an orthodox left winger in the Cup competitions when surely be and the likes of ESR and Sambi will be given much needed match practise.

  5. Let’s not pussyfoot around the situation. Lets be honest with ourselves, Pepe has been a proper £70 million flop, no mental gymnastics will change the situation.
    If pepe is not a flop then we must have been using that term in the wrong way for decades now.

      1. The real incompetents are those on the Arsenal Management who paid a huge premium for the player.

  6. The player we got that first season is not the player we have now. He looks a shell of the player we signed, when he does get his chance.

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