Why Nicolas Pepe Is The Right Man For Arsenal

Arsenal fans are right to be excited about Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian enjoyed a stellar campaign for Lille last year, scoring 22 goals and assisting another 11. The fact he was courted by Premier League rivals Manchester United and Liverpool before the Gunners spent a record-breaking £72 million on the 24-year-old underlines his pedigree across Europe’s elite.

Pepe grabbed the headlines – and won many new fans – by outclassing Kylian Mbappe in Lille’s 5-1 win over PSG last season. The right-winger scored a goal and bagged two assists in that game. In fact, Mbappe was the only man to score more Ligue 1 goals than Arsenal’s new acquisition in 2018/2019.


Arsenal’s fourth summer signing, penning a five-year contract, was born in France, making his professional debut in 2014 for Ligue 2 side Angers. Following a period of time in the side’s reserve team, he became a regular first-teamer in the 2016/2017 campaign. It was then that he won his first international cap. A year later he was signing a long-term deal with Lille before enjoying his best-ever season last term.

One thing the Emirates faithful will enjoy seeing is a directness – and willingness to shoot – from their new winger. For a side full of technically gifted players, all too often in recent years, Arsenal have been guilty of overplaying. Pepe, who enjoys cutting in from the right-wing and shooting with his left foot, will give the new-look Gunners a dimension they’ve been lacking.

While Manchester United fans will argue they’ve swung Champions League qualification back in their favour with the signing of centre-half Harry Maguire, their London rivals will understandably think the same about Pepe. Betfair’s free betting tips might currently see Arsenal listed as fifth favourites to finish in the top four behind United, but by adding the Ivorian’s talents to an already powerful frontline, there’s not a lot to choose between the Red Devils and the Gunners on paper.

In fact, Pepe gives manager Unai Emery even more pace to play with, making Arsenal a potent counter-attacking unit as well as a threatening side when in possession. The Emirates crowd will be licking their lips at the thought of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang flanked by Alexandre Lacazette and their new £72 million man.

The pressures of the Premier League will provide Pepe with a new challenge. But he’s already expressed admiration for teammates like Mesut Ozil who will have to use their experience to guide the young new recruit through his first full season.

Also, by stating his ambition to emulate Arsenal greats such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, he’s citing a heritage that’ll instantly appeal to the Emirates faithful.


While we might have to be patient to see the best of Pepe after his exertions in the Africa Cup of Nations, he adds another pacey dimension to an already dynamic and threatening attack. If Arsenal are to overcome their defensive frailties by simply being irresistible upfront, the silky skills of the Ivorian seem an ideal fit.

Updated: August 13, 2019 — 6:59 pm

16 Comments

  1. OT.. Eddie has just scored for Leeds ? been quite a good first half.. Salford play some really good stuff, and their No.17 – bloody hell he’s fast!!!

  2. Nicolas Pepe is French, like Henry,Viera,Mahrez,Zidane, Benzema…he was born and bred in a Paris suburb but like Mahrez he chose to play for the country of his parents birth as could have done the players I mentioned, being French I just wanted to set the record straight,I know I’m grasping at straws!!

  3. Other than U tube highlights I have never had an opportunity to watch Pepe play .I am not a fan of inverted wingers although Salah and Mane are highly effective for Liverpool in that roles.However they are the longest prongs of the fork with Firmino playing a deep lying role in the number 9 jersey.With this in mind it will be interesting to see if Emery deploys Lacazette in the Firmino role to which he is well suited.It was difficult to judge Pepe after his cameo appearance in difficult conditions at Newcastle but by all accounts he is highly talented .My own first impression which I hope proves to be wrong was unfavourable but then again when I watched Ozil for the first time I was blown away by his skills.If only he could turn the clock back

  4. just have to be patient with pepe, but i reckon emery should play to our players strength… with time he will definitely come good with the assistance and service of the players around him on the pitch

  5. Technical prowess translates to different leagues, but not always consistency. With Auba and Laca around I think it eases the pressure somewhat on Pepe to be an instant success.

    The concern for me is the attackers rely on the midfield to feed them, and they have to control games better.

    Don’t lose possession so easily, keep the ball and trust the attackers to find the channels and make the runs.

  6. Pepe will be a raving success by giving us some overmars like direct penetration, something we have lacked for a long time.

    Good things ahead I feel if the right balance and combinations can be found and used in midfield and defense.

    Although UE tinkers to much for my liking with formation as he gets to set up for the opposition which is never set in stone and can flux.

    Good signings though and reason to be optimistic.

    1. Once Emery has a full fit squad to select from the “tinkering” should stop. Last season the team selections were often influenced by who was available and weren’t on the treatment table.

  7. kolo and ozil may hand in transfer request for possible safety issues…

    fans may finally get what they wish for

    1. No news about it

      The Burnley game is perfect for Kolasinac, because he likes to bomb forward

      1. if situation worsen…they may do it…

        safety first…

        fans will get what they wish for

  8. I think Pepe just needs time to gel with his new teammates

    Looking forward to his combination with Maitland-Niles

  9. Mourinho saïd that after being sacked from man utd he spent the rest of the season watching football in french stadiums especially Lille,he said Pepe is a great talent but he is worried about how long it is going to take him to adapt to English football/life,I guess we’ll see!

    1. am worried just as much, his cameo was worrying if it is anything to by, but i hope he adjust fast otherwise with that pricetag the media, fans and even the fans of other club will be on your to prove your worth otherwise people will brand you a flop within a short period of time

      1. True price tag can be a burden especially if he doesn’t perform soon hopefully he will be given time!!

        1. How many games did Dennis Bergkamp play before he scored his first goal? Stuart Pearce said he wouldn’t be a success in England; he sure got that wrong.

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