Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Arteta encouraged by Pepe and defends use of Martinelli

While it’s clear that Nicolas Pepe still has room for improvement, his 14 goals and five assists this season suggest he’s starting to settle in the Premier League.

After watching the Ivorian net an important brace in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, Mikel Arteta is optimistic that the winger will continue to develop and praised the player’s attitude when it comes to analysing his game.

Facing the media at Selhurst Park, he said: “I’m very encouraged and positive to think that way for two reasons.

“One, because he’s come a long way, in terms of consistency of what he’s producing in games. Not only in the Premier League but what he’s done in Europe this season.

“And the second one, because of his serious mindset. He wants to look at every action, he wants to look at every post-match reflection we do with him individually. He wants to work and he wants to be the best.

“And when that happens and he has the talent that he has, I think it’s a really good mixture.”

Having given the Gunners the lead in the first half, Pepe’s second strike of the evening proved to be the cherry on top of a very satisfying victory that was set up by Gabriel Martinelli’s stoppage-time goal.

Sent on as a late substitute, the Brazilian made a decisive impact and later said he’ll always be ready to answer the boss’ call.

The question posed to Arteta after the game was what the 19-year-old needs to do to get more starts.

After recovering from a knee injury, which sidelined him until mid-December, the 19-year-old striker has only played 835 minutes of football; the equivalent of nine full matches.

Arteta was bullish in his response: “He’s very close. He needs to keep fighting to be closer and closer.

“We need to understand where the boys are in the phase of their development and what they have done already this season and last season.

“I know that we want to play with 11 academy players under 20, but guys, who is doing that? We are doing more than anybody and they are going to have the chances, they are earning their chances, it’s not like we aren’t giving the chances.

“They are earning the chances and it’s a joy to have them with us.”

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Don’t play your U20 academy players because they are U23 academy players, but because they are your best options…


Agree, Alex Ferguson said if they are good enough they are old enough. Put them in the team!


Think Tony Adams said that

SB Still

Simples, well said👌

I struggle to understand Arteta’s hesitation in picking Martinelli, he can see the difference, impact better than anyone else.

The only feasible explanation seems to be Arteta is worried about Martinelli, just like Arteta himself said. It’s one of the things Arteta will learn with experience and follow Wenger on this one rather than Pep.

Matt P

Exactly. This just shows up Arteta’s worrying conservative mentality.

santi's thigh grab

If Martinelli keeps delivering the goods and performances, it will be hard for the manager not to play him more regularly. I believe we will see more of Martinelli next season. He’s still so young but he is becoming more composed and not just a Tasmanian devil. Truly exciting times for our young players, the open question is can the brain trust build a team and can they build it around those players.

Guns Up

Considering he also had another (albeit minor) little injury thrown in, is the equivalent of nine matches really THAT few for someone his age who is competing directly with some of the best players in the squad for minutes?? I’ve never really thought so, and I hope/expect to see a great deal more of him next season.


Completely agree. This will be an unpopular opinion for sure, but I think people are seeing Martinelli through slightly rose-tinted glasses at the moment based on what he did when he first broke into the team. Since his injury, he hasn’t had anywhere near the same impact as before, certainly not enough in my eyes to be consistently starting ahead of Pepe and Saka.

I think we all need just a bit more patience…

Ro mo

And then Pepe benched for the next game in favour of William

Martin R

I very much doubt it. We need to beat Brighton and Arteta will want to put out our strongest team. Hopefully the news about Willian leaving is true.


We’ll probably see the same team start maybe with Xhaka coming in for Elneny – which I hope won’t happen because having Mo alongside makes Partey a better player.


Disagree. Elneny is so limited. Main benefit (and it’s a big one) is that he basically has three lungs. But he’s constantly reliant on others (incl defenders) to play higher value medium/long range passes. What kind of midfielder is that?

He has his flaws but Xhaka at least has a wand of a left foot. With partey and Xhaka on the pitch we’re playing our strongest central pairing with genuine burden sharing. At least till we upgrade.


Although I am occasionally frustrated by Elneny’s lack of risky forward balls, he did send 2-3 long passes out to Saka/Pepe on the right. I would keep him in the squad because we have so few midfield options with Ceballos and Odegaard certainly not coming back next season.


i dream of beckham’s miami taking him off our hands

Cultured Determination

Yup. Suddenly my tune turns from venom for manure in the late 90s to late 2000s to love for becks. So much So i want to gift him Willian.


Pepe, getting it done. It’s a bit maddening to see how big the potential is and still feel he’s not quite there. That said, he’s got 22 goals and 15 assists in all comps for us over two seasons, 13 and 7 in the Premier League. I’m still a big Pepe supporter…let’s see what he can do next season without huge amounts of his precious game time being wasted on the likes of Willian. Speaking of next season, Willock scored again today. Youngest in Prem history to score 6 in 6. “MoJoWillnenny”…Mo Elneny and Joe Willock. Keep ’em both next… Read more »


I agree. We need to play a 4-3-3 like Arteta wants and have Willock on the right side, Partey in the middle and somebody better than Xhaka on the left. We definitely need two midfield signings to make that happen, but maybe just one if Ainsley is given a chance there. Then up front we have Auba / Balogun in the middle and Martinelli, ESR, Pepe on the wings. I hope Willian goes and Odegaard stays and we have a team capable of challenging for CL places, especially if the wing back problem is solved.

Red Blue

<cough> *Saka, Martinelli, Pepe, ESR on the wings.

And I wouldnt mind switching to an asymmetric Partey/Willock/ESR 4-3-3 /4-2-3-1 hybrid – where Willock can be as attacking or double-pivoting as the situation calls for, and Elneny, Xhaka and a new signing who can play 10 or 8 (plus Azeez) as backups


13 premier League goals in 2 seasons?


Yes, 5 last season, 8 this season.
he’s capable of more and we’re starting to see it.

Not the yardstick we want, but For reference, Walcott only topped 8 PL goals 4 times in 12 seasons with the Arsenal. The first time he did was 5 seasons in, 2010.

For a more promising reference, Robert Pires scored 4 his first season (33 appearances) and 9 his second (28 apps) in the PL.

But the next three he then went on to score 14 each season.

Let’s hope Pepe decides to be like Monsieur Pires.

Bleeding gums murphy

Some cxxts are putting on here in capital letters ARTETA OUT and accusing others of not knowing about football. We are making progress. Since Xmas only city have more points. 😂😂


this is a bullshit take. Chelsea and Arsenal both were at 30 points in 20 games. Look at the difference now.


Thats why Lamps got potted. Simple fact is Chelsea have a far better squad & invested shitloads in the summer to push for the top spot. They have done very well under Tuchel but to get to that level we need investment. We had a really disappointing run 1st half of the season but since xmas we have done way better. Early feb we were really unlucky losing 2 games on the spin to Villa & Wolves. If we had taken 4 points from those we would imho have got Europa league which tbh is as good as we can… Read more »


Can draw the line anywhere to make the numbers look good. Who gives a shit if we have a good points total since 25 Dec?

Obama Young

Dec. 26 was when Smith Rowe started playing regularly. That’s why it makes sense to draw a line there. That is evidence that shows that we have been pretty good since ESR started playing regularly.


The point is that all 20 teams could find a magic date after which something happened for them. The only one that matters was won by Man City.


Stalker Alert!
If you want to write cunt just write it. I won’t tell your mummy I promise.
Are you using the emojis to let us know you’re being funny?
Seriously get a fucking life.
Oh and ARTETA OUT. That will get you excited.


Pepe’s problem is 72mn fees. If we had bought him for 25mn, everyone would have considered him a decent purchase.


Yes but we did buy him for 72m

Obama Young

But that doesn’t impact what he does on the field.
I suppose many Arsenal fans would love Pepe if he was the same exact player, but the deal was announced as 22 million and then Stan took the other 50 million and bought himself another ranch with it.


You could be onto something there.


“I know that we want to play with 11 academy players under 20, but guys, who is doing that?“

And that, is a classic example of a straw man argument. Who asked for for 11 players aged under 20?


Haha, it definitely is. But I’d probably throw that out there too with some of the questioning and criticism always flying about. I get that it’s part of the job, but so’s having a little fun with it.


The REAL question that we should all be asking is how come this team can’t play when under pressure? Winning meaningless end of season games doesn’t impress me too much. The two games against Villarreal were our season: we didn’t turn up. We should now be looking forward to a tasty final against United; instead we’re hoping to finish ahead of another awful Spuds team. Who cares? Failing to properly utilise Martinelli is just another one of Arteta’s weaknesses exposed this season. This squad was easily capable of a top-six finish. Arteta blew it and doesn’t deserve another chance. Next… Read more »


Agree fully. Wake me up when he’s gone.


Good post, well said. It’s the way this team is ordered to play. We waste so much time fucking about with the thing in our own half – this business of running at speed and two seconds latter stopping, checking back and playing sideways or backwards – it’s driving me fucking nuts. You can see players like ESR, Saka and Odegaard are itching to go full throttle, but then have to constantly play inside because of the wrath of the Lego one. People talk about formations, players form and selections. These are all valid arguments but the core of our… Read more »



I hate it when we come up against some weak team and play it safe with boring, slow football. That’s exactly why we were knocked out by Villarreal. We have the players to tear the rubbish teams to shreds if we just let them off the leash. Arteta is too cautious and he tends to tie himself up in knots by overthinking and micromanaging.

And he’s had his chance: it’s time for someone new.

Yep. I’m still worried this playing approach under Arteta isn’t going to take us places. We had 1.79 xG to Crystal Palace’s 1.00 xg. They had 6 shots on target to our 3 shots on target. We could have controlled that game better. Our second and third goals did not because of Arteta’s style of play but because of the players’ quick thinking. A typical Arteta goal comes from a lateral pullback into the box (1st goal). This style of play means we have only achieved over 2xG in 6 matches in the league. I’d still prefer a new manager… Read more »


Disagree actually. Arteta actually played a big role in our later goals because putting on Odegaard almost immediately changed the dynamic of the game. We finally got back on possession, the forwards were less isolated, and it wasn’t just a race to the corner flag anymore. Otherwise I agree, the biggest issue was just trying to hang onto what we had instead of pressing ahead and continue to attack at a higher tempo as we were doing earlier in the game and that part is on Arteta. However, he spotted it (perhaps slower than he should have) and we got… Read more »

That’s a fair point. But I tell you Daveo, I’m tired of seeing those two United rejects in the dugout. They don’t even look like they want to be there.

If Arteta’s selling point was that he was an untried and untested coach; why choose a pair of tried and tested flops as assistant coaches.


Yeah, I totally agree on that. He really needs some more experienced assistants. These guys seem way out of their depth and it seems Arteta chose them because they follow his philosophy. He needs someone, at least one assistant with some alternative views on things to shake up his tunnel vision of his own tactics to see the bigger picture.


Maybe xG is a load of crap.

Like a lot of metrics it has its limitations but it’s still useful. It tells you the likelihood of your shots becoming a goal and you can add up the xG of each shot to project what you should have scored (statistically). The shots in which a striker has more control in a number of factors give you high xG (0.7-1.0). These are usually penalties and 1 v 1 scenarios On the other end are scenarios where the striker has less control. These are usually headers and long-range shots that will give you low xG (0.0-0.4). I believe the xG… Read more »


This was worse yesterday when we went ahead. We just went full conservative and there was no link between mids and forwards and EVERYTHING went wide and crosses to a striker that isn’t very good in the air. It was painful and once again we let a team we were on top of turn the tide and start dominating – I was sitting there thinking them scoring here is inevitable and even a 2nd was likely until Odegaard came on. The Odegaard sub was critical as it allowed us to get back on the ball and linked play between the… Read more »


Next season will imho be better. Squad needs investment. Patience my Fat friend

Teryima Adi

Your philosophy is throw out the baby with the bath water. Have some patience, Bro. Throw out Arteta at the end of next season if he doesn’t perform.

Spanish Gooner

Arteta has spoken a lot this year but I want to see action next season. If he extends Lacazette and keeps Willian (or signs yet another CB despite having Saliba) then this man is not serious about developing these players’ futures.


He may not have any control over whether or not Willian stays, but he definitely does over whether he plays.

Let’s hope Sir Davey Stubbleham takes him on the ‘around the world in 80 beers’ tour of Epcot and brings the contract and a pen.


Exactly. Throw in Nelson there as well, arteta is destroying his future, he could’ve been our sancho.

Pretty much my train of thought too and I’d extend that to the club executives. It would show they haven’t learnt a single thing.

Baichung Bhutia

I forget Martinelli is just 19. I have a feeling we will sell Laca and Nketiah, in which case Martinelli would be playing as a striker mostly. It’s probably his best position and next season will be huge for him.


I agree that’s where his future lies, so why not use him there in these (relatively) meaningless games. I mean Auba was awful again last night and just needs to be shutdown and properly recover from malaria. Other option is to try Pepe up top, Martinelli left and Saka right.


He can surely do a job there, he’s proven so already. Don’t think we should try and turn him into a striker tho, he has that energy and craving to run at players and eager to track back. His speed also more suitable for the wings in long term I think, also he noted himself he doesn’t like playing striker and prefers to be on the wings. Get in Edouard, Martinelli when needed can fill in or can be rotated between striker/winger to get him the game experience he needs next season.


BOTH good today.

Worth noting goals came from diagonal runs and wide attackers.

But MOTM for me Chambers. Excellent crosses and good work covering/blocking/ He’s really proven the mantle to take over from Bellerin IMO.

What a suprise given finally he is played back in his ‘natural position’

We now have a chance to win 7th and finish ahead of the Great Pretenders.

Sure Conference league sounds like a boring unnecessary meeting but lets just finish as high as poss for pride and of course ahead of the great bottlers.


Yeah chambers was excellent. The Odegaard substitution made a big difference though. It really shows we need another technical attacker (Buendia for me as Odegaard seems unlikey). That won’t step on the toes or block ESR, but rather complement him, just like Odegaard did again when he came on alongside ESR.

Cultured Determination

Fair enough if he’s not playing Martinelli on the wing cos of pepe and saka. He should be firt choice back up though. No more Willian bullshit


I’ve always backed Pepe and knew he would come good. Like the rest of our frontline, he has had to put up with an almost non-existent service from the midfield – (Auba, again, had fuck all through the channels last night). Until such a time that Arteta ditches LEGOball (he probably won’t) and allows the team to play free flowing attacking football, then the forwards will continue having to feed off scraps and half chances – and our goals tally will still be shit. The final ten minutes of last night’s game showed again what this team can do with… Read more »


Maybe Arteta deserves credit for all the work he had done with Pepe?
Squad needs an overhaul Should we bring ur pal Mesut back then? lol


Erm…maybe, just maybe Pepe already possessed the ability to do what he did last night when he joined us….?

Maybe he has got 13 goals this season in spite of Arteta and not because of him……?

And jokes about ‘my mate Ozil’ were ‘funny’ when they were actually topical…..? Like last year….? Time to move on – and if you’re going to try and make us all laugh, get yourself a new script writer, pal……

Carlton Kgololana

What’s Lego football? It’s not everything is awesome, that’s for sure!


Fair enough.

matt keeler

I’ve always liked Pepe.
He’s like every great winger, unpredictable, infuriating and absolutely magic when he gets it right.
Hoping for an even better season next time out.

S'up Johnny

I’m actually seeing some good development with Pepe. He’s got all the class but he seems to be working harder too. If this keeps up, he could become absolutely world class.


I like him too, and hope that now he know the PL and how it’s played he will kick on. He’s the kinda winger who bring that street football bravado to the pitch with effectivenes. He seems to have a good connection with Chambers, who at one time clipped a ball trough the air into the box for Pepe who took on the chest. Nothing came from it but I just thought Bellerin would’ve never ever given that ball. Chambers seems very positive on his approach when on the ball.


What infuriates me about Arteta is him constantly tinkering with the team. One of our finest performances this season was away to Slavia Prague, then for the next game against Fulham he made FIVE changes.

How is the team expected to build up any cohesion with each other if they are constantly changing?

I’ve never liked Mourinho, but he rarely made changes to a winning team – not matter what competition there next game was in.


I see your point (although I suspect some players were rested after the Prague game) but other people criticise him for not giving enough players a chance. There can be too much tinkering of course, but it looks to me as if he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.


Thanks Biggles, but its not as if the changes were a one-off – he’s always doing it. He should have some idea by now of who his first eleven is and, subject to injury/form, stick with them.

The talking is all good and stuff but Pepe has 1512 minutes in the league. Which would be about 16 games. I don’t see this trust Arteta is talking about. Not yet anyway.


The more I think on it the more I think the answer is selling Auba (a tough job) and Laca (only because we cannot keep giving 30+ players massive contracts) and Nketiah (don’t think he is the right talent or player style for this team) and going with Pepe/Martinelli/Balogun and signing another young striker as the striker options. Pepe and Auba are just poor fit, both too direct and not enough contributions to build up play. You can’t play two players like that in one team.


I agree that Pepe is starting to come good, but Zaha would have hit the ground running had we signed him.

Carlton Kgololana

Hit the deck after running more like

😂😂😂. For some reason, I didn’t see that coming


The season is over, why not give Martinelli the last few games?! Not to mention the fact Saka looks shattered.


last one game


No shit. I meant since the season was over a couple of games ago.


It is EXACTLY like he hasn’t given chances. The threshold to start, play regularly or be sub has been far higher for the younger players. One player has been given a proper chance – ESR – that’s all. Saka was playing too well to be overlooked before Arteta arrived. Post-truth society, post-truth manager. Check the stats, check the playing time for youth on the fringe. Laughable comment from a joke manager. This lie has put a boot through the thin layer of hope I had for him. Hold your hands up mate, you got it wrong in so many ways.… Read more »

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