Why Pepe simply must start for Arsenal in Molde

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.

Be Kind In The Comments


Tags Arteta Molde Pepe


  1. I’m with you on this issue Dan.Pepe is not an egotistical young guy.To me he seems sincere in his apologies to his team-mates, his Manager and Arsenal fans, and as I said the other day this unfortunate incident which has of course been blown out of proportion by the reaction of the Leeds defender,could turn out to be a catalyst to drive him on and make him more determined to produce the goods.I hope he plays but not on the right wing.

  2. Dan,
    I love your write up. The sport light has now shifted onto MA. Let’s watch to see how he handles Pepe going forward.

  3. I think that its a good idea to start him in that game. Maybe he can prove by his display that he’s really sorry

    1. Playing Pepe in Europe on Thursday would be very unwise. Arsenal will qualify for the next round easily so Pepe is not needed. But starting Pepe 4 days after his “unacceptable ” actions would be totally hypocritical of Arteta. It’s unacceptable behavior but you can play in the very next game. What sort of punishment is that? One rule for Pepe another rule for Ozil and Guendouzi.

  4. Its already widely reported that Pepe will start on Thursday…. I think I’ve read that from two places, and that Arteta would start holding an extra hour training with Pepe after team training

    1. I think it’s only logical that he will start in the Europa League because he is banned for PL matches..

      He really needs to put on a show tomorrow.

  5. I hope he plays. For no other reason than he needs games and this may kickstart his season and build confidence which I think is lacking

    The Guendouzi situation is entirely different as Pepe has been contrite which is more than could be said of MG

  6. The earlier he starts another games, the faster he gets over that regrettable incident.

    Arteta needs all the man management skills he has to save us from 72m down the drain

  7. As ever Dan, an article that has been crafted by much thinking and sincere beliefs.
    I was interested that you call yourself “old school” though, as to me, your stance on Pepes treatment is definitely NOT old school but rooted in modern theory.

    I much agree that MA is a highly intelligent man and he is caught between two important principles; one being a man(single, not plural) manager and the second, which is quite different, being a squad manager and they need different methods.

    That may surprise some but think of it like this; if you have just one child you may well bring him/her up in one defined way.
    But if you have a large brood of kids all in the same house, then you need different tactics with them all together, noticing all you do for each other child and demanding at least equal treament themselves.

    And MA knows this but has to sort out several players who for varying reasons were or still are not giving the productiveness expected of them. Remember, since so many choose not to remember, that the whole SQUAD is always far more important then any one individual.

    That truth being a given , then he is correct not to OVER indulge(emphasised OVER, quite deliberately to properly make my point) players who are lazy(Ozil), hotheaded (Guendouzi), talented but immature but who just cannot regularly show that talent( Pepe). All these are done to show the whole SQUAD the inviolable standards that are demanded , just as at Man City, Liverpool and other emerging clubs like Leicester too.

    A section of our fans seem unable or unwilling (or even both) of thinking things through. That section would rather bleep off on here rather than give real proper thought to the situation MA is in and look rationally at why he takes certain actions.
    Immature as some are, they seem to imagine that MA is deliberately making their lives unhappy. It really is pathetic to see how little real thought SOME(andit is only some) fans are willing or able to give to this matter.
    I remain a staunch fan of this dynamic and firmly guiding manager who is highly regarded by all pros within the game who speak their own opinion.
    My only real worry – since there is no prospect(as in ZERO), of the club sacking him and it not even on their horizon – is that this stupid carping from those unthinking fans may, just MAY, cause him to walk away saying “I don’t need nor deserve this nonsense”!

    I very much doubt a strong minded man such as he will ever contemplate that but it remains rightly or wrongly my only real worry. I am certain , 100% certain, this manager will bring glory to our club, indeed has done so already. despite some fools calling him a rookie!

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