Arteta: No excuses, Pepe has everything he needs to succeed

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Mikel Arteta says Nicolas Pepe has everything he needs to flourish at Arsenal but the winger must find the right mindset to perform consistently.

It’s more than 20 months since the Ivorian joined the Gunners in a club-record £72 million move from Lille and the manager is keen to put the onus on the player to deliver on his potential.

The winger scored in both legs of the Gunners’ Europa League win over Slavia Prague – in the process taking his goal tally for the season to 10 goals – but he still has work to do if he’s to convince Arteta to start him more regularly.

“He needed a period of adaptation and that is gone now,” said the boss ahead of Sunday’s game with Fulham. “So we cannot rely on adaptation again, now it is about performance and he can do it.

“He has got the players to support him, a manager that trusts him, he has got all the staff that are willing to help him and all the teammates who really like him because he is a really likeable character, so there are no excuses.”

It sounds as though there is an open dialogue between player and manager and that Arteta won’t have any qualms axing the winger if he doesn’t meet the required standards.

“Probably the biggest thing is when you see that you don’t play and what you have to do to play and then when you do it, you play.

“Nico has this ability – it depends on him, we can help him as much as we want but he needs to have the right mindset and consistency to do what he can do.

“Because that is the level that we are going to ask of him, the level I am asking of him – if it is something below that he is not going to play.

“But if he does what he can do he will have a big chance to play because he has got incredible ability.”

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goongot

I dont get this. tough love for pepe and willian was bolted into our team and praised for his average performance for a certain while. Pepe deserves to be in the starting 11 now , ahead of aubameyang.

Lack of Perspective

I was slow to to like pepe as he does have a rathar flippant attitude at times. However i do think recently he completey deserves his chance.

He has looked consistently dangerous and he looks up for the fight.

The bemused looks he gives are more aimed at near misses and stupid shit bt other players and refs rather than him overcomplicating it.

He changed my mind with his recent performances and i hope it continues. He looks great these days.

Carlos

It really irritates me how Willian gets this free pass to play poorly and rob hungry players the opportunity of starting minutes.
I really like Pepe’s attitude and the biggest difficulty with this season isn’t our position in the league, nor the chance we don’t play in Europe for yonks. It’s that hungry players like ESR, Gabriel, Pepe were only added in when all else failed and that realisation took arteta far too long, and I hope he has really learnt from this.

Sachin

I get all the hate for Willian, but let’s not forget what all he has won before he was here. He was brought in to be the Luiz for the young attackers. He was also supposed to be a challenge to the flamboyant but ineffective Pepe. Willian hasn’t done much true with his chances, but it could very well have turned out amazing. One season doesn’t change his career.

I’m curious to see if Willian will change or won’t and get the Mesut treatment from next season.

Bleeding gums murphy

It’s the double standards that dilute the substance in the statement.

KingKolo

Disagree. Maybe Willian is in an adaptation period? Or even more likely the ceiling Pepe has is much much higher. The greater travesty would be to not push Pepe to that ceiling…

Hank Scorpio

Sorry but Willian is an experienced premier league professional on big money. Expectations should be even higher. Are you saying Willian doesn’t or shouldn’t have to keep performing to get games? If so, Arteta seems to agree with you and to the detriment of the team. But I suppose Arteta isn’t going to admit he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face by playing Willian even when he’s shit all to justify this disastrous signing.

SB Still

Fully agree but I also think both Pepe and Arteta are inconsistent.

Willian’s minutes should have been divided between Pepe and Gabriel. Both of whom need the minutes and are the future. Its all well and good in training but as everyone knows nothing replaces match experience.

I didn’t understand us signing Willian and much less the insistence on turning the clock with him!

Heavenly Chapecoense

I do understand signing Willian. He was an experienced top player. It just didn’t work. Real Madrid fans must have been saying same thing about former PL best Hazard.

SB Still

Hazard had his best years ahead of him but Willian, was looking for a retirement home, that will take him in the longest.

SB Still

He maybe a hero but not the one we needed/need. There are enough wide players.

You can always upgrade but some more pressing need than others like midfield, we could have used that money for the AM from the start of the window or DM.

Tanned arse

There’s pushing a player and then there’s preventing him from establishing himself by withdrawing him from starting lineups when he’s playing well and doing what you ask. He’s never fully won over the supporters but that’s as much to the fact he’s considered inconsistent. I’d argue that he’s inconsistent because he’s selected inconsistently. Then the idea sets in our heads that he’s more erratic than he actually is.

Guns Up

I’d agree, and add that over the last several months, in my opinion, he’s actually been our most consistent attacking player in terms of providing genuine threat in the minutes provided to him. Saka would be the main competition in that department, but I think Pepe’s final ball/end product has been better.

KingKolo

The whole point with Arteta (right or wrong) is for players to be predictably consistent whatever the circumstances. The very best talent cope with whatever the situation. So he creates those situations to push him…

Thierrys_Tears

I do love sarcasm. (?) The 32 year old Brazilian who played 8 years in England needed an adaptation period? He needs to adapt to retirement.

Chopra Gooner

The reason is that Willian is Arteta’s signing so he’s trying his level best to make him successful, whereas Pepe is not his signing and has already been labelled as a semi-flop. If Pepe flops, Arteta and Edu may not be held responsible.

However, Arteta and Edu signed Willian, it’s a terrible deal which could put their jobs on the line.

Arteta has been unfair to Pepe and Nelson by constantly playing an out of form Willian ahead of them. They are just hoping that somehow Willian might find form and confidence.

Cultured Determination

More like find interest.

The Goon

Who’s this ‘Nelson’ you speak of?

Johnny 4 Hats

If we win the Europa then we will have Pepe to thank for a lot of the amazing moments along the way.

And for me, Champions League qualification would absolutely justify his price tag.

Another redemption arc for Arsenal? Let’s hope so.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Let’s win the first game against Villareal. That’s all we can talk about at this point.

Johnny 4 Hats

Let’s hope they are more Villa than Real.

A Different George

Villa with no Grealish. No Martinez either.

Duno

Villa has won us on our last 3 visits. I don’t know man…

Duno

*meetings

PeteyB

Careful what you wish for, Villa destroyed us this year

Johnny 4 Hats

Probably still rather play Dean Smith’s boys than Real Madrid though…

Cobwebs

Pepe has to be perfect to get picked. If he isn’t perfect he gets replaced by Willian, who can be relied on to be poor.

thw14

Everytime he strings two results together, Arteta feels emboldened to make some random statement of this sort.

If tough love management is your tactic, do it, and then we’ll judge you on the results. What is the point of giving some public sermon saying “look at me, I’m man-managing you guys, this is man-management!” Classic Mourinho.

Nightflyer

He seems to play by different rules when it comes to Pepe

Ozzie

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his attitude. You can see tracking back isn’t his natural game and that he’s making the effort.

Devastating when cutting in on his left foot but he just doesn’t have a wide enough repertoire to carry the same threat as Zaha, Sane, Hazard, Son, Mahrez or Gnabry.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

The only excuses here is yours arteta for not playing him more often and played willian way more instead despite very blatant poor performances time and time again. So yeah, if pepe was poor, it was because you never gave him some momentum to build on even after he played well. One good game from pepe, next 2-3 games benched

Noni

I generally agree that Willian’s minutes should be given to Pepe and Martinelli (if you ask me, Willian should not be given any minutes at all), but let’s not make things up, like saying Arteta has given Willian “way more minutes”.

Willian has been given 1695 minutes this season and Pepe has had 2371 minutes altogether (according to Transermarkt).

PeteyB

Thanks for the stat. Honestly it surprised me. Just goes to show how biased the brain can be. Willians shite sticks in the mind

HomeGrownGooner

big arteta fan here but this kinda stuff gives me emery vibes. what’s his point?

bob

It seems fairly clear. He’s throwing the gauntlet down to a player who appears to be very talented but struggles to be ruthless and consistent. I’ve seen people say how it’s a double standard how he treats Pepe with this sort of tough love, but frankly that is literally man management. Different players respond well to different motivations. And it looks like it’s working. Giving Pepe the view that he has to be decisive in games to play, and not just coast, has proved to make him more impactful. Now we want him to do this consistently and make himself… Read more »

Goonslinger

I totally agree with @bob. We potentially have a world class player on our hands and it seems to me that Arteta is just trying to individualize his man management. No individual is the same and as a manager you have to use whatever means you have at your disposal to get the best out of each individual; it seems as though he is doing that with Pepe and I’m all for it.

HomeGrownGooner

Yeah I get that, it just seems like weird timing given that Nico has probably hit his most consistent patch since being an Arsenal player and done everything he possibly could in the limited minutes he’s been given. So so impressed with his defensive improvement and ball retention – and that’s all down to the manager.

Just give him more minutes! Maybe Arteta’s not impressed with his training or something.

Tobi6footplus

Ever since Pepe’s move to Arsenal he hasn’t been given a run of games to prove himself. Once he has one bad game he gets benched. Yet Willian routinely stinks out the place but in Arteta’s words ” …. we have to support him”.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

If only pepe get benched after he played bad. Time and time again we have seen that even after pepe played good (either scored or make assist), he often get benched for the next match or two. I mean, how come he can sustain good performances
if he gets chances to play sporadically like that?

karl

Exactly. Either benched or changed position just when he gains form.

karl

Pepe is one of the most productive players if you look at starts and goals scored. Like Martinelli, things happen when he plays more often than not.

allezkev

Pepe has, if I’m not mistaken, been softly criticised by team mates before because of his often lackadaisical attitude and in not taking things as seriously as he should given that it’s his job.

Maybe this is just a shot across the bows, you know, ‘well done, now keep up that level’..?
Nicholas is a totally different character to Willian, Willian is serious, or appears to be, it’s just that he’s a bad fit for our team.

Torterrier

The only thing Willian is serious about is salted meat in Dubai.

Rincewind

So it’s about facial expressions is what you are saying? What’s your point?

Torterrier

Sometimes a certain kind of player needs tough love, I hope for Arteta’s sake Pepe is that kind of player, but I am not sure that he is. Pepe gets to the point where he looks a special player who can really contribute, and then he gets dropped, that could damage anyone’s confidence especially when he has to watch Willian be absolutely shambolic. I really hope Pepe’s most recent performances cement his place in the starting 11, providing he can keep up this level and most likely improve on it.

Billy bob

We have nine or ten games left (depending on whether we win the semi final) and now is the time to get a settled line-up of regular starters – for me Pepe should be one of these.

Billy bob

Also, when I first commented on this site my messages were put as pending because I was a newbie, but how long are you classed as such? Bit frustrating that you want to join a conversation but miss it due to being in “quarantine”

Rosa

Publicly talking about a player like this is awful. So negative. Mourhino-esque and hardly likely to positively motivate a player. If I talked about someone I managed to other people where I worked like this let alone to the media I’d be in trouble with HR. Also it’s not even fair. Pepe saw Willian bought as a replacement to him and was then dropped after good performances. I’m not saying Pepe is the bee’s knees but this is poor man management. Same with publicly dressing down Auba. It’s shaming.

Hank Scorpio

If we notice the double standards then we can rest assured so to do the players. Hard to take the phoney drill sergeant schtick seriously when it is applied so selectively.

Iain

Agree. Sums up the situation really well

Biggles

He’s certainly playing better more consistently which is good news. However, no matter what he does, I fear the weight of his (obviously over-inflated) price tag will always be a drag for him, and probably at the back of his mind, because at the end of the day he isn’t a £70+ million player. It’s not his fault of course, he had nothing to do with the record money Arsenal foolishly agreed to pay for him, but he and the club are stuck with it nevertheless.

Charles MMM

Arsenal was rather duoped into agreeing to pay that amount by a certain fired former executive. But it was definitely not Pepe’s yoke to bear. He’s good enough for his “actual” worth back then. I rate him to finally explode by next season.

Donkeson

How I wish the season-long underperforming so called *experienced players* gets this type of tough love as well. There’s increasingly a great willingness to talk about what they’re not doing than for the older players; Saliba, Martinelli, Guendouzi, now Pepe… This season should have thought us that if you’re good enough, you’re experienced enough. How old is Mbappe??? The talk about experience is seriously now overtalked and overrated. *Give the young guns the chance they deserve and the fans would tolerate their inexperience more than we tolerate the flops of the Experienced*

Trez

Maybe if you gave him a decent run of games earlier he’d have gotten into form.
All Pepe needed was a decent run of games but he kept getting chopped and changed as soon as he started getting a bit of rhythm.
The elephant in the room is that his best position happens to be where Saka is playing presently. So are we going to sell him or convert him to another position? Or perhaps play Saka as a 10 while he plays as a RW?

DB10s airmiles

Hard to disagree with any of that to be fair. He has played him on the left a bit recently and he’s performed pretty well so perhaps there’s hope for Pepe? The trouble is that we have to many players for those front 3 spots and arteta has some weird soft spot for Willian.

Rich

Pepe is a match winner, if he can improve tactically and get to grips with the physical side of the game, then he’ll become a very important player, there’s a few signs things are starting to click with him It’s weird that we’re still talking about flaws in a 25yr olds game, but sometimes players just develop a bit later Football is often a game of fine margins, and Pepe is capable of being the difference maker, and pushing those margins in our favour on a consistent basis You don’t always get an instant return on investment, sometime you need… Read more »

Filsuf

Arsenal players only perform when they want to negotiate a new contract or attract interest from bigger clubs. There seems to be no other source of motivation for them. I guess it is a sign of how upper management treat the club and players. If they’re just in it purely for the money and they’re not smart enough to pretend otherwise, they will get attitudes of players towards the club the same way. This approach can only work at flush clubs like city and psg but will never work for clubs that rely on fan base with a tradition, history,… Read more »

Naked Cygan

I like what Arteta is saying, but he should have some balls and say it about every player or keep it private between him and Pepe.

SarcasmB0t

… but Willian.

It’s impossible to take this martinet schtick remotely seriously when an experienced player on 10 million pounds a season puts in godawful performances game in – game out and is selected more consistently.

Mikel, it seems like the main reason Pepe hasn’t achieved consistency this season – is you.

Tombo

Feels like he is trying to do a pep, like with sterling at city. Just comes across as weird and almost bullying when the same approach doesn’t extend to other players.

Tanned arse

All good words from arteta. But they’re just words if he continues to drop him after good performances combined with the same workrate as those that play on a regular basis. It has to work both ways and there’s no doubt that Pepe has deserved more game time this season whilst others haven’t applied themselves to great levels and have actually produced less (and that includes in a defensive capacity too). If arteta applied all his principals equally throughout this squad then I have absolutely no doubt we’d be sitting far higher in the table in a season when everyone… Read more »

Unknown

Pepe is good. Inconsistency in performance is down to Arteta and his unfathomable obsession with Willian. Pepe, as we have discovered many times, can be very very good but you have to choose a good team around him. He needs someone else in the team to play at his level and at his pace. Willian in Pepe in same starting 11 just does not work. Arsenal have absolutely no need for Willian on the team. We could get better performance from academy players and that slot on the team could have been used to look to develop Willock or AMN… Read more »

Alex

For me, personally, this is a kid of bollocks. Pepe is scoring or assisting every 158 minutes this season.

That means it is more likely he will be involved in a goal action than not, in any 90 minutes he plays.

People can make what they want of that, but I would be encouraging and PLAYING him with support and regularity.

I also feel (no stats on this) that his goals are quite important in respect of the game state (first goal/winning goal) as yesterday but that might be my personal bias for the big beautiful athlete

Nostalgic Gooner

Totally agree. Pepe is a highly effective player. Yes, he can be crap at times, but ultimately, football is about scoring, creating chances and impacting the game. He does that. I’d have him in the team anytime instead of the likes of Willian.

hazmat

I genuinely don’t understand the hostility to Arteta’, the man inherits a bit of a shitshow, manages to win the FA cup, is in the middle of a massive clearout of unreliable and downright useless players during a pandemic, has transformed the teams play and attitude and somehow got us within 3 games of another trophy and he gets crucified for bringing in one player (Willian) that has not quite worked out yet, give the guy a chance for gods sake!

Nostalgic Gooner

He’s actually been lucky to get a big job at Arsenal and manage without any pressure. He’s probably a good coach but both him and Edu (and the CEO) are very inexperienced, which has shown. Looks at all the players he’s brought in or persisted with like Willian, Ceballos, Cedric, Mari – none of these are upgrades on the players we had or improved the squad. Quite the opposite, they stunted the growth of Pepe, Nelson, Martinelli, Willock, AMN, Saliba etc. In fact, he hasn’t given any young players opportunities. Saka, ESR and Willock got their opportunities from Emery. Even… Read more »

hazmat

I think Arsenal could end up being lucky with the Arteta appointment as well, in which case (presumably) we will all be happy, how about giving him some time to do his job and he can be properly judged at the end of next season when he is nearer to a squad of players more suited to his type of football.

Ealing

You got quite a few good points there

AMN's cheeky grin

Arteta’s full comments sound less critical of Pepe than the excepts in this article. In particular, he says that Pepe has already improved his mindset, and that things are already clicking for him. I’ve copied Arteta’s full comments below. QUESTION: Has something clicked with Nicolas Pepe now and has it taken personal sessions and private conversations to get him to this level? ARTETA: Yes and to try to convince him. But probably the biggest thing is when you see that you don’t play and what you have to play and when you do it you play. Nico has this ability.… Read more »

Rincewind

What the f does Nico need to do to prove himself more? In a team that starts William whenever they can? Limited starts but Pepe still shows up, what if you made him a regular starter?

NAT LEWIS

He doesn’t like Pepe.10 goals and he still isn’t good enough. How many goals have Shaka scored. The trouble. is that Arteta was so good I can’t even remember hin playing for Arsenal. I am 70.

Disarmed Gunner

And this is what we’d call a clear conflict of interests. So you throw curve balls at Pepe but beloved Willian gets a softer treatment? Seems fair. Thank goodness for our manager and his “non-negotiables”. I sometimes play that clip for a laugh. He even had for me a minute.

Man Manny

I wish this same rule applied to Willian.

Gooners & Roses

Amateur coach give you amateur contents. Perhaps he is learning a thing or two from Mourinho, which is not usually a good idea…

Canadagoon

Everyone boo-hoo-ing in the comments about double standards and tough love…Arteta literally said that he trusts him, and that if he keeps playing well he’ll keep playing. Nothing to get upset about, move along.

Kaban

what’s with the “arteta always prefers willian” comment? pepe has 1229 premier league minutes to willian’s 1211. most of these minutes in the first 12 games of the season. in 2021 willian has started 2 premier league games, pepe has started 8.

SarcasmB0t

That’s about 1000 more minutes than he should have had. Those minutes could have gone to Pepe to build some form.