Nicolas Pepe’s start to the season has been a difficult one. Having pretty much cemented his place in the starting XI after lockdown, he has found himself benched for new signing Willian in the first four Premier League games.

However, his introduction in the second half yesterday added something to the team from an attacking point of view, not least of which was a superb, dynamic goal to double the lead not long after Bukayo Saka’s opener.

The Ivorian played a one-two with Hector Bellerin, raced into the Sheffield United box, and precision-guided a lovely finish in off the post.

That spark, that pace, is something we need to see more of on a more consistent basis, but afterwards Mikel Arteta was pleased – not just with the goal he scored – but the focus with which he did his job having again failed to start.

“I am really happy, first of all for him and also for the contribution he made to the team,” said the Arsenal boss.

“When this type of player is not playing, obviously they are not happy but I demanded them on matchday to be completely focused and determined to make the impact when they have the chance to play, and that is exactly what he has done.

“I think it is another step forward for him, he is capable of doing that but he needs to do it with consistency.

“This is the demand we are going to put on him but I am delighted that he has done it and he helped the team a lot today to get the points.”

Read today’s Arseblog: Arsenal 2-1 Sheff Utd: Saka and Pepe provide the spark + Transfer Deadline Day

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goongot

announce buendia

Daveo

I’d DEFINITELY take Buendia (unlikely). He’s a classy player and super underrated. Our lack of interest there is a little bewildering. Workrate, tackling, technique, passing, EPL experience. He lacks a little finishing, but he gets into the right areas and it will likely come. Really, our lack of interest outside Aouar Partey is bewildering…Really, Arsenal is rather bewildering at times.

Snagger

He’s a bit small, name me one good small Argentinian ever?

Neder

Pele!

Hail Gus!

? Pope Francis? ?

Daveo

Martinez

Crash Fistfight

Christopher Samba

Snagger

All good answers above and in the spirit intended but favourite is the Pope.

Raygeclan

With a little bit more playing time I think Pepe will be a beast! People have written him off too quick. If he can be a bit more consistent I reckon he will be well worth the money we paid for him

Yellow Ribbon

Absolutely, I think the fans do lack a bit of patience. We have got to have the faith on our players like Pepe, Laca, Leno and Bellerin. I think the quality has always been there.

The fee that we paid for Pepe hasn’t helped TBH.

samu

I am very confused by peoples outlook on Pepe. The kid is incredible, he’s come into a team at their lowest for a big fee and really, 1on1 he is UNSTOPPABLE. The team needs to play to his strengths and get him 1on1 and its a done deal this guys technique, movement and power and pace are unmatched he is unique. I am a huge fan and you can see hes on the edge of exploding us into the top 4…We need some better midfielders and some more selfish runs to let him get into a position to hurt teams… Read more »

joeb

Unstoppable? honestly the over reactions on this comments section are laughable.

samu

Check google out lol

unstoppable
/ʌnˈstɒpəb(ə)l/
adjective

  1. impossible to stop or prevent.
  2. “an unstoppable left-foot volley”
Reality check

You’re right on both accounts, Pepe can be world class if we play to his strengths, Chelsea did to Hazard’s and won 2 PLs and a Europa. By holding him back, I think Arteta was trying to light a fire in him, which he might have considering his critical contribution yesterday.

C.B.

He needs a bigger goal than just taking one step forward.

C.B.

I’d much prefer him to be starting than Willian, far more speed, energy and goal threat.

Aaron

If would prefer they both started with Arsenal reverting to a back-four against the so-called smaller teams but Arteta knows what he’s doing. He knows our lack of mobility in defensive midfield and lack of composure in central defense and he is forced to play a 5 at the back with two shielding games in fron to make us difficult to beat. So Pepe has to bide his time as Willian doesn’t lose the ball much, unlike Pepe who is more adventurous but gets turned over as a result, a byproduct of his adventure. We will accommodate both when we… Read more »

Daveo

Yup. It’s time we move Auba to the middle. He is killer up top, he is killer on the left (best option in either position), but having Willian AND Pepe is better than having Willian and Laca/Nketiah, far more dangerous and direct.

I’d happily see:

Leno
Bellerin-Luiz-Gaby-Tierney
Ceballos-Elneny
Willian (AM)
Pepe-Auba-Saka

in a 4-3-3 too, gives us nice balance and much more creativity and mobility through the middle, while keeping out flanks structured (Elneny helped a lot there vs Shefs) and still very dangerous going forward

onenil

Your team looks OK going forward, but Luiz doesnt seem capable of playing in a back 4.

Daveo

So we have no hope of a back four? I’d happily play Holding, Mari, (long term Saliba) there also. But right now our best option I think is Luiz (sadly).

You can also easily rejig that formation without changing any presonnel to be a 3-5-3 (Saka to LB; Willian LW). Arteta seems to focus on versatility anyway. Eitherway I like that 11 going forward (given it seems a fool’s hope to think we’re getting any midfield upgrades [sigh]).

Alex

Ah the famed 3-5-3 formation. Think that would work.

FrenchGunner

Your team selection is spot on, but I would still believe We would pull the partey deal once torriera completes his move so I would slightly alter your formation and include Party. Leno Bellerin Luiz Gabriel Tierney partey elneny Ceballos pepe aubameyang willian. I observed during the first four matches that willian struggles to impact play on the right, hence my decision to move him to the left and also, teams have started doubling up on auba on the left and since he is not skillful enough to dribble his way out, I think its best we return him to… Read more »

Daveo

I wrote this having no fucking idea Partey was even a chance anymore. Clearly Partey >>> Elneny = Xhaka.
Partey has been my dream signing all summer. He offers what we’ve been lacking in midfield for about a decade (maybe a decade and a half). I’m trying to stay in control because we need to see the .com confirmation, but man – It’s a bit exciting. dam I hope it gets over the line. So Arsenal though to wait until the 11th hour to finally stump up the buy-out fee. This could have happened at least a month ago.

Daveo

p.s. I’d still prefer ceballos alongside Partey and Saka in the team as AM or LW (and Willian filling the other attacking role (AM or LW).

BillyKrystal

Willian has been unremarkable since arriving. Glad Arteta got the man he wants, I just don’t see him transforming the attack. He feels almost like an Iwobi player these days, happy to buzz around the front 3 and link up play without doing much more than that.

Granit(e) hard!

He is a player shorn of confidence right now and might reminds one of the proverbial deer frozen in headlights sometimes, but he has shown, albeit sporadically, there is a hell of a player in there somewhere and hopefully Arteta, with what we now know and can only call special man management skills can help him like he has done numerous other players that we can see.

Biggles

It would probably be unkind to suggest that a player costing over £70million should really have been making more “steps forward” before now, but we are where we are. Let’s hope that he continues to improve – quickly.

It’s ironic that we’re not currently getting the expected return from either our most expensive player (Pepe), or our highest paid player (Ozil). An unfortunate “double”. While I think we can expect the former to live up to expectations in time, the latter is a lost cause now.

Merlin’s Panini

That’s not really ironic. Just unfortunate, Alanis.

Biggles

Don’t agree. I think there’s certainly irony there – a definition:

“a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects.”

That looks about right to me.

lorenzo

Close, but it’s missing something.

A better example of irony would be the President of the United States making fun of people for wearing masks, then catching Covid.

Alex

“Lost cause” because the club has decided so for political reasons. Can’t do worse than Willian 32 years old £220 000 per week Brasilian Borges.

Biggles

Don’t know what the reference to “political reasons” is supposed to mean. Mr O hasn’t lived up to expectations for several seasons now, almost coinciding with the new contract that the (then) management was panicked into awarding because they didn’t want another “Sanchez-type departure”. I tend to agree with you about Willian – although it’s really too early to say yet but the two examples aren’t mutually exclusive. The fact is that Ozil has been a monumental waste of money overall. He certainly isn’t solely to blame – see above – but “political”? No.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Hope Ozil save a lot of the money. I do not see any club president who has a brain buy a guy who barely played for three years and decided to only collect the money.

Martin

£100,000 a week

Pat Fried Rice with Egg

How unfortunate.

I still remember the day we signed Ozil, signaling the end of our extremely frugal ways.

Sending Gervinho off to Roma, who let Lamela leave to replace Bale, and with Bale in the team, Madrid offed him.

It was like Arsene knows and had done it again.

Sigh… Hindsight is always 20/20

Santori

Consistency Consistency Consistency

Good goal by Pepe but jury still out until he can repeat with better consistency.

but if he can, he will start to pay back the investment.

Otherwise the 20m commitment to both him and Saliba is proving to be as predicted last summer and impediment to us concluding deals this summer particularly without an experience transfer team to rely upon.

Alas.

Santori

Commitment to Pepe and Saliba weigh us down with 20m this window. Adding on expenditure on Magalhaes we are out 44m Income is 20m with Martinez with unsuccessful attempts to mint on Torreira. Therefore not surprisingly, we are unable to climb higher than 32-36m without big risk to conclude on either of Aoaur or Partey. At this point it is said Jorginho (who fulfill Edu’s requirement of Ex Chelsea and Brazilian) also looks unlikely with Chelsea likely unable to sign on Declan Rice. One player we should be keeping tabs on late in window is Geoffrey Kongdogbia. Apparently (if true)… Read more »

Biggles

I think we’ll begin to run into trouble later in the season when injuries and suspensions begin to bite as I fear we don’t have the quality or strength in depth for a long slog – particularly if we still have several “passengers” in the squad and it looks increasingly unlikely we’ll be able to offload them now. Talking of which, we may utilise Ozil at some time but it’s largely down to him at this stage. I just don’t think he’s bothered, so I’m not holding my breath for a comeback swansong.

Daveo

If no one comes in then the development of Willock and ESR really controls our ceiling this season. Both are great talents, but are clearly not the finished product. If they take big strides this season, we might get by. But it’s a big gamble and will put them under pressure. Willock in particular really excites me though. If he advances technically and improves his finishing he really has potential to be a complete player – big, fast, ability to drive with the ball, great movement off the ball, and excellent workrate – still a ways to go though.

joeb

willock is not a great talent and wont make it at arsenal.

Never Happen

Our B team won at Leicester and got a decent draw at Anfield recently. I believe our squad depth isn’t that bad comparatively

Diaby's Left Peg

Depth is fine, unfortunately its first team quality that’s lacking.

Daveo

I remember the big Kong about 3 years ago we had an interest. He is a very solid player, big powerful, but I haven’t seen him play for a couple seasons nor heard much from him. Still, as an alternate to nothing I’d be quite interested.

joeb

what about emre can?

karl

Pepe didn’t deserve to lose his place looking at the form of Willian. Let’s hope he continues to play and Willian is better from the left anyway.

G-Man

Obviously new signings are needed but with Ozil on the pitch, those 1-2’s would be more frequent. If Ozil isn’t playing then we need somebody with the same skill to replace him…. Otherwise you play Ozil.

Anonymarse

Aubameyang looks like he can be quite creative through the middle …

AubasFade

He is not that kind of player with control in tight places. Aubameyang is really not a great dribbler.

Anonymarse

He’s quick and very intelligent though. Set up one of the goals on Sunday.

loose_cannon

It’s not about Ozil per se, or about any one player, it’s about having the right players in the right positions. In the second half Pepe came on, Willian drifted infield and Ceballos took more offensive positions. Suddenly we looked far more fluid going forward and we didn’t need Ozil to achieve that.

onenil

Ozil retired some time ago. He is not coming back.

Fatgooner

Nice goal by Pepe but the jury’s still out on him. So far not worth 72 million.

That Liverpool game yesterday was sensational, wasn’t it? Just shows what you can do if you have a go at them. We were far too defensive and showed them too much respect at Anfield on Monday. If we had been more positive we may have got a result up there.

I don’t expect to see a major signing today. As far as Stan is concerned fourth is possible with this group of players, and that’s all he cares about.

Daveo

We gotta move away from Xhaka. He is just so beige and limits our flexibility. Elneny showed yesterday he can provide as much structure as Xhaka, with way more mobility. We played a solid game against a disciplined team and once Pepe came one we had Saka and Willian dropping into spaces between attack and midfield and much improved balance – and apart from a low% long shot we looked tight at the back.

Fatgooner

Xhaka and Elneny belong at Southampton or Burnley, not Arsenal. We should be moving on from players like these.

Daveo

100%. No Argument from me. I have been on the partey wagon all summer. I have a lot of things crossed this gets over the line. Nervous evening coming!

Sagebrush

I noticed yesterday that McGoldrick was frustrated out of the ball the whole afternoon by Ceballos, to a point where he kicked him and got a yellow card. immediately after Ceballos was REPLACED he was too free and he scored and nearly equalised. Take note you Gunners

John C

I like Pepe, great technique, can be very direct and he’s a very clean, accurate finisher as we saw yesterday but he’s always looked a bit timid to me.

If Arteta can bring out a more assertive side to his game i think we have a 15 goal and assist a season player there.

samu

Reminds me of Martial’s demeanour

Billy bob

Crumbs the transfer deadline day is so dull!! Less than 11 hours of hoping we make a quality signing, to the increasing realisation that ain’t likely to happen!!! What a bore!!!

Bang Tidy

There’s been a question mark over his confidence recently so hopefully this will encourage him to express himself a bit more.

In other news I think your Transfer Deadline Day ‘Live blog’ is broken. I’ve been refreshing it and refreshing it and yet nothing seems to be updating! No exclusive updates on all the midfielders we are going to buy today, no exciting updates on all the deadwood being discarded!! What’s going on? Sort it out.

Harri
BillyKrystal

Wake up the medical team! Partey plane touching down soon for the medical!

FrenchGunner

Your team selection is spot on, but I would still believe We would pull the partey deal once torriera completes his move so I would slightly alter your formation and include Partey.. Leno Bellerin Luiz Gabriel Tierney partey elneny Ceballos pepe aubameyang willian. I observed during the first four matches that willian struggles to impact play on the right, hence my decision to move him to the left and also, teams have started doubling up on auba on the left and since he is not skillful enough to dribble his way out, I think its best we return him to… Read more »

Pat Fried Rice with Egg

Xhaka for Elneny as he’s probably an automatic starter under Arteta.

Auba may not be able to skillfully dribble his way out, but he’ll speed past most PL defenders easy.

Licking my lips at all those cross field long through balls from Partey to Auba.

Also hoping that Partey playing as enforcer frees up Xhaka / Ceballos to play a more creative role.

Sagebrush

I noticed yesterday that McGoldrick was frustrated out of the ball the whole afternoon by Ceballos, to a point where he kicked him and got a yellow card. immediately after Ceballos was REPLACED he was too free and he scored and nearly equalised. Take note you Gunners

Jean Ralphio

Has a wonderful left foot. Just needs to learn to shoot quicker. His goal was pure instinct. Wenger would have loved to work with him.

baz00r

Saka/Auba/Pepe with Willian sitting in the pocket behind Auba has surely got to be the way forward. Sticking Auba on the wing is travesty!!