Pepe Has To Start In Norway! By Dan Smith
With qualification to the knockout stages all but assured it seemed this week’s Europa League fixture held little interest to some Gooners. It was even being suggested that even more youngsters be used for the remainder of the group.
Suddenly though, for Pepe, Molde away has become one of the biggest moments of his Arsenal career.
He’s apologised for his moment of madness on Sunday. While I refuse to call it a head butt, to do what he did when you know VAR is watching makes you question his mentality.
Sorry is just a word though, actions speak louder. Now banned for the next 3 domestic games it makes sense he starts on Thursday. Yet there is a suggestion Arteta might not take the winger to Norway as a kind of punishment.
Our manager wasn’t shy in his post-match interview at Elland Road to say Pepe’s actions were unacceptable. It’s the angriest I have seen the Spaniard but was he too angry?
Clearly a clever man, was he using the red card to deflect from the fact that for the 50 minutes before that we were being outplayed by a newly promoted team, and yet again were not entertaining to watch?
Whenever Arteta is asked about Saliba, Guendouzi, Torreira, Sokratis and Ozil, he speaks calmly with empathy. Those are players he dropped, so who knows what an angry Arteta means?
Yet you can get away with things when you’re winning games. When we were lifting the FA Cup, many fans appreciated the ruthlessness of big names being frozen out.
A section of our fan base were too busy predicting a title bid and (forever my favourite) the Champions League inside three years, to notice the amount of talent he was just washing his hands of.
When you’re not winning games, every decision you make gets scrutinized. Suddenly not having Ozil in your domestic squad gets questioned when you are lacking creativity.
Equally surely a trip to Norway would have been a perfect opportunity to test Saliba? How Pepe is now man managed could be crucial in Arteta’s reign.
He is clearly a confidence-based player who needs an arm round his shoulder. You could query if that was already happening. I thought he had his best game for us in the Cup Final, but after that never got a run of games. That already suggested that maybe the winger simply doesn’t tactically do what is required of him.
There are times when a player needs to be reprimanded and there are times that they need support.
Arteta has demonstrated he isn’t scared to discard someone if they don’t meet his standards, but now he needs to show a softer side.
Call me old school but isn’t it a coach’s job to get the best out of the resources available to him? Isn’t that what the training pitch is for? It does seem like a club we now accept just giving up on players.
This week, three players are being paid to just sit at home. That’s not good.
I have heard comparisons between Pepe and Guendouzi leading some to think the Ivorian won’t play in Europe. That would look bad on the manager, gone are the days where he can make an example out of a player.
Pepe has messed up, taken accountability and as a result has been racially abused online. That’s more serious than a red card!
I can’t get my head round that. If you made a mistake at your place of work is it okay to then be racially abused?
To those cowards online, I would say “if that was your family member being called vile things how would you feel?” Would it be okay if they had a bad day at the office?
It’s been a hard few days for the 25-year-old but now he needs support.
It’s easy for Arteta to give up on him. It’s harder to prepare him for Thursday, get him so fired up he destroys Molde.
Since he arrived last December, Arteta has given up on Ozil and Sokratis for ‘footballing reasons‘, Guendouzi was dropped due to his behaviour and Saliba’s not ready.
That’s a lot of money being wasted, especially when at Man City Arteta’s skills were apparently working with talent one-to-one.
Shrugging your shoulders and hoping a player leaves won’t work this time. You can do that once or twice but eventually it looks bad on you.
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