Sunday, February 25, 2024

Pepe: Bench duty is frustrating

Nicolas Pepe admits he’s frustrated at his sporadic game time at the Emirates but maintains it’s up to him to persuade the coach that he’s worthy of more minutes.

The Ivorian winger has featured in seven of Arsenal’s eight Premier League fixtures this season but started only once, away at Manchester City in October.

The 25-year-old has shown flashes of his ability in the Europa League – a competition in which he’s registered two goals and two assists in three games – but finding consistency in a side struggling for attacking fluidity has proved difficult.

“My goal is to play more. Have a little more playing time,” Pepe told French outlet Canal Plus.

“A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again.

“He [Arteta] wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match. Afterwards, I see during training that I will be a substitute the following weekend.

“But the coach speaks to me, he also has assistants who are there for that. But it is frustrating for any player to be on the bench.”

“The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.”

Pepe is currently on international duty with Ivory Coast who face Madagascar twice as part of their attempts to qualify for the African Cup of Nations in January 2022.

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The feeling is made worse knowing that the player keeping him out is the great Willian!


hehe you know that’s what he said without really saying it


And people moan about Ozil being a waste of money. Well, now – thanks to Arteta – he is.


Yes, now! During the last years he was worth every penny of that 350.000 per week plus a few millions loyalty bonuses. Absofuckinglutely!


Why the fuck do you people only take last season into consideration? The guy helped us to three FA Cups after a nine year trophy drought. Had we had a better defence, we would have achieved more.

And you think Willian is currently better value for money than Ozil….?!

As I’ve said to the other Ozil Haters on here, come back to me when an attacking midfielder currently in an Arsenal shirt has done better than win us three FA Cups and made as many assists as Mesut Ozil.

Until then, watch your William opening day at Fulham on repeat.


The only contribution I can remember from Ozil in any of those 3 FA Cup wins was tracking back to tackle Hazard from behind.


What, you’re trying to tell us all that that was his sole contribution to the team in those three FA cup campaigns? 🤣

What about the number of assists in his Arsenal career? Who in our current midfield can match that in Arsenal colours?

You Ozil Haters. All the same.
Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.


* Willian

Johnny 4 Hats

I feel like Arteta prefers players that do a specific thing for him. He wants disciple and structure.

But players like Pepe, unpredictable and erratic, are important too, especially in tight encounters. If Pepe can discover how to play with his back to goal a little better, I’m still not giving up on the idea he could become a 20 goals a season man.

With Willian playing like an arthritic hippopotamus, he will get chances. I truly hope he takes them. At 25 he still has his best years ahead.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Pépé is not a natural fighter on the pitch. Differences in quality apart, Mané is a fighter that even a blind can see. Fight more on the pitch Pépé, push the opposing defenders, use your shoulder to hold them up and prevent them from taking possession. If you need more muscle, do extra hours in the gym. Be Pépé on the pitch, not Pépère.


Neither is Aubameyang, but they are both incredible finishers–so rather than re-condition this 120 million pound duo to be something they are not, why don’t we play to their strengths and find ways to put the ball at their feet on the edge and inside the box, and give them more than one or two chances a game to finish.

Johnny 4 Hats

I dunno if it’s that. Wingers by their very definition are erratic. Zaha, Mahrez, Traore… They all run hot and cold.

If we can get Pepe on a hot streak, he’ll be great. He’s a really strong finisher and is very direct.

If Willian was doing a vaguely competent job then I might think otherwise. But I say we give Pepe 10 back to back starts in the Prem and see where we are then.

Still love wenger

The great George Graham, played with a system, that didn’t allow much…But he still allowed players like Limpar,Rocastle and groves to attack freely, but defend when needed.


Spot on, well said. I think Arteta is striving for something similar to what George achieved. I mean, I, for one, am eternally grateful already to Arteta for building from the back and shoring up a defence that, a few years ago, systematically was undoing all the good work that players like Cazorla, Alexis, Ozil, Ramsey and then Auba were providing. This is why I cannot and will not have anyone tell me that Mustafi deserves a place in this side – the guy is a nightmare and his mistakes have kept us out of the ECL, year in year… Read more »

Still love wenger

Sorry man
This was a rely to your earlier message


The n is silent just like his performances


When William first signed, we thought he’d be converted to a deep lying playmaker role like Cazorla. If not that, he’s obviously then employed to play at Cam to replace Ozil. Who would have thought he came to replace Pepe in the wing!

This is crazy. We broke our transfer record twice in 6 months, both to fill in the same CF position. We then broke that record to bring in an RW who was then replaced by our record oldest new signing willian!


If Elneny can force his way into the side so can you. No need to say anything to the media, just do all your talking on the pitch and the full 90 mins a game is waiting for you.


Is it? He needs a proper run in the side – something the manager hasn’t given him yet.


El neny was a one game wonder


Are you for real?

Kartik Iyer

If there’s one good thing you can say about Elneny, it’s that he’s consistent. He’s like the Nacho Monreal of midfielders.
On a separate note, how underrated was Nacho Monreal! The guy was one of the better arsenal players of that era.


What if we moved Pepe central?


What if we moved Auba central?


What if we did both..

Auba central striker with pepe in the 10 with license to roam. He can then pick the ball up deeper and turn and run at players and go either way. Also does have a decent through ball in him.

Hugging the wing hes restricted and is forced to cut inside at some point due to lack of right foot

Just an idea


That’s certainly worth consideration.

I just think Pepe on the right and No10 Willock behind a central Auba and a left sided Saka, might just click.

Arteta needs to do something, though. And quickly.


And Auba at centre back?


Well, knowing Arteta, I think he would prefer him as a left back to be honest.


Well, considering that the players who provide the most attacking threat in Arteta’s system often seem to be stationed at centre back…

Artetas Assistant

No brainer


The frustration is we looked considerably, and I mean considerably more fluid against Sheffield when we shifted Auba centrally and having Pepe and Willian each side of him. But for some reason that doesn’t seem to be the benchmark.


Yeah you and me both. Thought Arteta would have noticed how much better we play after accidentally playing auba in the middle as a striker since he is one. But alas


Can ..OR we can play Auba and Pepe the way Pool employs Mane & Salah..M & S dont hug the touchline, instead they look to move inside all the time from wide areas…The Pool wing play comes mainly from their fullback, Andy and Trent.

Besides it seems to me that our midfield personnel resemble Pool players more than they resemble Citeh ..and not to forget that Firminho and Laca have a lot in common to:))

Anyway, for me its simple, ultimately I really dont care how Arteta decides to employ his players, as long as he got many Ws…


Nelson deserves more game time then pepe and mhki lite.


Once again, Goongot, you are as clueless as ever.

Pepe is a quality player who is a proven finisher. He needs a run in the first team – not cameo appearances from the bench.

Nelson is a good option to have on the bench but, at the time of writing, clearly doesn’t possess the ability to impact the game to the level that Pepe can – assuming Pepe is given a proper run in the side.

Artetas Assistant

I often feel like executing this smackdown you just pulled on Goongot on your views. But I don’t.
You just bullied a guy. I really want to be harder on you 😈


Yeah, well, during my time on this page I’ve been called many things, including a Spurs fan, had my son insulted and one poster (Snagger, how are you buddy?) insinuate that I was sexually abused as a child.

I’ve never deliberately set out to bully or insult anyone. But If people can’t hack a few home truths, or take a bit of banter or learn to differentiate between opinion and fact, then that’s their problem, not mine.

Artetas Assistant

Diagnosis ; Lack of Empathy.
It’s the failing of even the best of us who like to be brash but fact is your don’t know what people are dealing with and should just be nice ??’ .
Imagine this Goongot guy is a kid who gets no joy in school and comes on Arseblog to share what he thinks, and your grown arse mowing him down.

Still love wenger

I’ll play the imagine game.
This Goongot guy is not a kid, just some bored dude, had a few minutes and just wrote a comment.
Dude,he wrote 10 words,the last 2, no one knows what they mean, hardly a description of Goongot.


mhki lite meant willian is worse then what mhki was to us. And yes i was bored. But no, I am not clueless,but then you guy’s are entitled to your opinion and me to mine ! why can’t we just respect each other’s opinion and counter respectfully ?

Artetas Assistant

What healed me of my lack of compassion/empathy and as following #positivity #empathy #compassion #altruism on IG.
Happiness/Cynicism is a choice and Cynicism doesn’t gain you nothing but being perceived as a joy-drain. Cheers bossman


I sincerely hope you get well soon.

Artetas Assistant

Restrain yourself


I’m entitled to my opinion, just the same as everyone else on this page.

The last person I probably need to take advice from is you.

Still love wenger

Isn’t that the moderators job?
I feel you have now bullied Qwalitee.
Its a funny old game.

Artetas Assistant

I have the capability to bully, but I try not to. So Nahh, this is a community of real human beings, Goongot isn’t an individual living on Arseblog, He’s a real guy somewhere who shared an opinion and was told it was ‘clueless as usual‘ . Nuff said.
Bullied someone by saying to be more civil ? Know what , Don’t answer that .

Still love wenger

Really dude?
If you go on a site to express your opinion, you have to have a thicker skin.
You decided that you were going to be judge and jury about what is acceptable here,which unless you are the blogs lad is not your place to do that.
Just as a aside,I’ve seen a lot worse by others…name calling and swearing, I hope in the future you police as vigorously.

Paul Roberts

mhki lite??


He probably means Ceballos, although half the time I struggle to grasp what the fuck he’s going on about. He’ll have us putting Auba in goal, next.


No, I meant willian. Willian had a similar start to mhki (3 assist in 1 game) and has now gone off the boil. imo willian is performing worse then mhki and hence the ‘mhki lite’ tag. nelson played better then willian and pepe and hence it was my opinion of him to start ahead of both. if you dont like my comment, u can ignore it or click on dislike for all i care but start being respectful ! if u were bullied before here doesnt mean u shud start bullying others now.


I get Nelson is an academy grad and for that reason a lot of fans love him, but what exactly has he done to make so many people think he’s worthy of starting? Last year he played in 21 games (across FA cup/PL/Europa) and had 2 goals & 2 assists. He didn’t really do anything to make either Emery or Arteta think he was worthy of dislodging Saka/Martinelli/Pepe/Auba etc. Pepe just for comparison played in roughly 2x the matches (41) but put 8 goals and 10 assists – so quite a bit more production per match.

Joseph Kawooya

So Nelson would have had say 4 goals 5 assists by the Pepe standards, given Nelson’s age; 2 goals 2 assists is worthy of a second try.


Pepe also was coming into a new country and league with a new language whereas Nelson was playing with several of the players he’s played with since childhood. Pepe is a natural finisher and while Nelson will get his chances, there’s no reason to think Nelson has more potential than Pepe let alone should be starting over him.

Crash Fistfight

Yeah, but to be fair, Arteta didn’t think Martinelli did anything to get a chance ahead of Nketiah.


I don’t get why but Arteta wants his strikers to play like Giroud and not a mobile front line. Martinelli appears to be viewed as a winger as is Auba


Actually I wanna see both Pepe and Nelson, each flanking Auba centrally. But at this rate I’m not convinced Arteta will budge. As someone said earlier it’ll likely be Nketiah central with Auba out wide again.


This guy needs a run in the side.

He can finish with aplomb – but not from the fucking bench.

Another situation with a solution staring Arteta in the face.


Pepé is very close to a starting position on a regular basis when Willian isn’t taking his chances. If Willian can’t stand out as the better player, Pepé will be the prefered option in the long run. But Lacazette would be the first one I’d rest for a bit. He looks like he needs a few hours on the couch.

Fireman Sam

He looks like he’s already had more than a few hours on the couch


With laca and Willian not working, time to give pepe his chance.


I’m sorry, Pepe, but you’ve been a massive disappointment. You came for a huge fee and have done nothing to justify the outlay. Maybe we should try you as a striker: you can’t do any worse than Lacazette.

And I don’t want to see you out on the wide right. You don’t have a right foot. An orthodox left winger you might be.

Still: you’re better than Willian.


Arjen Robben didn’t have a right foot, seemed to do okay.


He was a much better player


We once used to take good players and make them better.

Bob's Mexican Cousin

And a massive cunt too

Paul Roberts

Maybe Pepe is playing in the wrong position? What I will say is I have never seen a winger (Pepe) never ever ever take a player on! ?


What does this mean? It’s a double negative.
Do you mean you’ve never seen him take anyone on, or you’ve never seen him never take anyone on? In that case you are always seeing him take people on.. so what’s your problem?

Paul Roberts

I have no problem. It seems you do? Read it again.


And his replacement Willian does not take people on too.


I know a few players with no right food, one of them is Lionel messi..

I think Pepe can become a great player with the right structure, position and players
Around him, it is not his fault that the club paid a huge amount for him.


Don’t you dare talk about Lionel’s diet like that!


I agree he’s been a big disappointment, but the size of the fee wasn’t anything to do with him personally. There are other factors about that which remain largely a mystery. The fee is, however, hanging around his neck which is an additional problem given his underperformance to date. It’s a bummer.


Imagine if Salah, Mane, Sterling, Mahrez, Sane, Gnabry were all instructed to stick to the wing and just told to stick there and wait for the ball to come to them. Then imagine if they were double-teamed every time the ball came to them.

That’s exactly what Arteta is doing with Pepe. He went from being the soul of the attack at Lille, having a license to roam and make runs inside, to now being a fringe winger. No good can come out of this


This narrative sounds familiar with respect to another Arsenal player even further removed than the bench. Is it a matter simply, as it is with the unnamed above, that we don’t want these kinds of players at Arsenal any more? Put another way, do we now need and prefer to have the hardest working athletes who can blast the metrics and stats and execute a rigid plan of play, or are we missing the technical players who express themselves through intelligent decisions and automations? Or are those qualities there in the players we do have, but we just need to… Read more »

Timorous Me

To be fair, I feel like that’s what’s happened to Auba lately, too, just so isolated out there on the left most of the time. And he hasn’t done any better than Pepe in that time, really, which is no coincidence.

I trust that Arteta knows his football, and I hope this is just one of the growing pains for him as a manager that we almost forgot to expect. The highly-structured system paid some dividends, but he didn’t realize it has its limitations in the long run. More flexibility and openness to improvisation on the pitch feels necessary.


At lille one on ones, running at defenders, clinical finishing was his strength. At arsenal however against low blocks he is not going to get to do all that.. pressing, crossing, unlocking defences is not his strength.. so not sure how we are going to get the best out of him..


Stop pissing about passing around the defenders for a start. Get the ball out quicker to the forward/Pepe and let him loose. Arteta really needs to shed his ego and tear his tactics – it’s not working.

Hank Scorpio

He won’t


Seems that way and it’s worrying. His philosophy isn’t working. We have got the personnel for a quick counter attacking game, why not go for it? Also our players don’t have the profile of that stupid tiki Taka Football that Arteta seems obsessed with.


Especially frustrating when he has to sit and watch Willian week in week out.


Yep, our Willy shanked two shots basically out for throwins last match. You can bet your house Pepe would have twatted them on target at the very least. He scored almost an identical one the other day in the EL. First time shot from the edge of the box.

Naked Cygan

Pepe has been performing way below standard, and makes your blood boil in some games, but to be fair to him, he has been better that Willian. So he has a point for wanting to start. This is all on the manager, he has to stop playing players who are under performing. Arteta has to change his style and do something new with teams outside the top 6.


I would say it’s Pepe. All of our forwards will continuously look bad if Arteta doesn’t stop his pragmatic and overly cautious approach. Stop this tiki Taka nonsense


Good. He should be frustrated, he should be kicking up a fuss. He is producing tangible end product while others are doing less than nothing.
Neither Pépé nor Aubameyang are wingers, so they shouldn’t be played as such.


It must be very frustrating for him, like it would be for any player. Unfortunately, there’s the added pressure on Pepe because of “the fee”, which can’t help – and that’s not his fault. All sorts of views of course about whether he’s been given a fair chance to show what he can do etc. or, if he has, he just hasn’t done the business… . Whatever, we are where we are with Pepe and everyone else, and that’s in a mess! I think it will take more than an “all we need to do is (x)” solution to rectify… Read more »


I wonder what having Pepe out on the left and Auba central, with Nelson on the right would do. Surely it couldn’t be any worse than now? Saka and Partey, and Eleney(or Ceballos or Xhaka) depending upon the opposition seems ideal when I become the armchair manager.

But in any case, Willian doesn’t deserve his place. At all.


Or Willock with Saka-Partey.

Artetas Assistant

Pepe central , Auba on Left just beside him


doesn’t sound happy. Can’t really blame him


The problem for Pepe is that not only does the manager favour an abject Willian, but Pepe couldn’t even get a transfer away. We would be looking for a big fee and his wages would put off most clubs.


That’s true. There’s no realistic chance of moving Pepe on anytime soon so we really have to try (at least) to get the best we can from him. He isn’t, and never was, a £70+ million player but that doesn’t mean he can’t make a bigger contribution than he has been – for whatever reason. The position we’re in now, it’s all hands (or feet, more accurately) to the pumps.


Why would we transfer a great player who only needs time to be world class?

Cranky Colin

That performance v villa reminded me of an old toilet that was “dumped” in a field, with a few skid marks still evident


Pure poetry. Nothing more, nothing less.


Ohh Colin you’re too kind

Fireman Sam

I think I know that toilet. Was it near Bristol in a field off the A37?


He’s lucky, I wouldn’t even have him on the bench, no matter how nice a bloke he is. Wonder how much of that £72mill is in Sanheli’s pocket.

Hank Scorpio

Happy to persist with Willian?


And to think, we could’ve had Zaha for the same price.

Crash Fistfight

Did anyone pay any attention to that Everton fella we didn’t sign last season? Apparently he signed for Benfica.


You have a point. Based on most recent performances I’d have Nelson ahead of both.

However it’s Arteta who knows what instructions they were given, sees them in training etc.


It will be interesting to see how Arteta navigates through this. After the initial honeymoon period, now questions are being asked about his tactics and he has to prove he can adapt and turn around the team’s form. Also on how he can manage big players. Removing Ozil from team was easy. Board wanted him gone, fans were tired of his inconsistency and everyone knew he was cleaning up some one else’s mess. Pepe, not so much!


Play like Gervinho, sit like Gervinho.


Erratic player. Does not win anywhere near enough of his take ons and tends to lose the ball a lot much like Auba on other flank. Add Ozil you have a problem. Which is why Willian was brought in not that I am condoning that ridiculous move. We could have found solution to our right flank for wenger with the excellent Mahrez. Then we could have found it for Emery with the also excellent Ziyech. And more recently we could have brought home Aouar for Arteta had we had a more experienced transfer team in place. Instead we have a… Read more »


After 8 games in, we are 12th. Where was Unai last season?


It’s simple for me.


With Saka playing behind Auba.

Pepe from the right

Willian or Martinelli from the left.

Alternatively we bring in ESR and move Saka left.


At least the FM beta is out ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Neil Bamford

Personally I think for 70 million he’s had quite a bit of time to try and impact and he was used a hell of a lot when we first bought him and the frustration is all his unfortunately. Still always stops with the ball after sprinting with it and gives the other team time to regroup. Can he score goals from no where, yes. Does he do it often enough in games where we need him to do it, no. Consolation goals against poor European opposition don’t guarantee a start in the premier league especially when the rest of your… Read more »


Saka, Pepe, Nelson – sub, swap, switch, rotate…
Keep these 3 going in our wide positions for the PL.Thanks to Willian being utterly useless there is no reason why we should see him play in the PL for a while, unless it is to give one of the 3 above a rest.

We want to develop our youngsters so give Nelson more game time over Willian. He deserves it and Willian does not.

Man Manny

Arteta is beginning to show signs of his naivety if I am being honest.
If Willian – a man that has been outright atrocious in recent games – starts the next game against Leeds, I’ll really question Arteta’s sense of judgement.
Was it not this Chelsea reject who lost a harmless ball in the midfield that led to the first goal against Villa?
Everyone can see Willian doesn’t seem up to it anymore except Arteta.
He had better sit up or else, he stands the risk of taking Arsenal backwards, big six improvement or not!


If these non-negotiables was applied to Willian and Laca,would they be still in the team?Pepe has been bad this season but has produced some end products, his replacement worse(who keeps playing irregardless ),Willock can’t get a game in the league..this reward strategy is shocking.


Meantime, the best creative No. 10 this club has had since Dennis Bergkamp gets paid £350k a week to train – and nothing more.

100 % Ambazonian

Forget the Oezil, Saliba, Guendouzi decisions. Willian could well be the sword with which Arteta will stab himself!



His most costly mistake in terms of lost Premiership points this season, will be the omission of Ozil.

Mid-table at best. You can certainly forget about top four and the ECL next season.


Maybe if he didn’t tackle himself every time he got the ball he’d start more. Who really knows.


Stating the obvious but we need to try Pepe, Saka & Abu as the front 3. Hopefully Martinelli can come back quickly. I have much more confidence in him than Laca.


It seems to be obvious to everyone who knows anything about the game – except Arteta!

As much as I love Arsene Wenger, he could be a stubborn old goat at times – more often than not to the detriment of results. Let’s hope this stubbornness hasn’t become part of the current manager’s default settings.

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