Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Arteta focused on getting more from Pepe not selling him

Mikel Arteta is keen for Nicolas Pepe to prove himself at Arsenal and dismissed suggestions the Ivorian could leave the club as soon as January. 

Since starting four of the Gunners first five Premier League matches, the winger has dropped off the radar at the Emirates in recent weeks sparking spurious suggestions the Gunners are happy to part ways with a player we spent £72 million recruiting from Lille in 2019. 

While we’ve not seen such rumours ourselves, it was put to the boss that Saturday’s opponents Newcastle – newly flush with cash since being taken over by *taps nose* not-Saudi Arabia – could be a possible destination when the transfer window opens. 

“We’re interested in Nico performing at the level he can do,” said Arteta in response.  

“He’s had some really good moments since I’ve been here, some moments where he hasn’t participated that much but, like everybody else, it’s part of football and part of the world in any football team.”

While they’ve not yet had a chance to flex their new financial muscle, Newcastle are widely expected to spend big in the coming years as they look to build a side capable of challenging for honours. In theory, given the wealth of their new owners, they could blow anyone out of the water on the transfer front while also offering big wages. 

As things stand, Arteta isn’t overly concerned about losing his players to the Geordies. 

“I think players should stay at football clubs when they feel they belong somewhere, when they feel important, when they feel value in every single aspect,” he said.  

“In those cases, players normally want to stay. When players start to decide something else its because they need something different in their futures. 

“That can happen with any club that has the financial power to convince anybody or other capacities, sometimes it’s not a financial power, sometimes it’s a sporting reason, a family reason or a problem of adaptation. There are many different cases.”

Somewhat ironically, the final signing of the much-derided Mike Ashley era was an Arsenal player that we were reticent to let leave – Joe Willock. In the end their £25 million package was too much to resist. 

Arteta is looking forward to a reunion with our academy graduate.

“It will be really nice to have him, we all love and like Joe,” said the Spaniard. 

“Obviously it was a difficult decision to make to let him go, but I think he’s shown that’s what he needs as well to play the minutes that he’s finding there and find a new challenge.”

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Hopefully Joe comes back to us for a 5M when they start spending like crazy. Wouldn’t be a bad backup with an extra year’s experience


We need a big enough squad that Pepe stays, he is a decent player but not quite first team level for a top team.

Though if we get our purchase price back we should take it.

Johnny 4 Hats

We need Europa League group stages again so Pepe can play at his level… 🔥

Johnny 4 Hats

Hey Johnny, now that we are on Pepe, do you remember the off off Broadway play ‘La Cocina’ that George Costanza said he wrote about a Mexican chef called Pepe to convince a tv network that he had prior writing credits?

Johnny 4 Hats

Yes, yes I do. What a great episode. And what a great Arseblog contributor you are.

A Different George

You’re wrong about Pepe, but the rest of this is great.

Johnny 4 Hats

I know. Just fancied putting out a bit of bait…


Bait’s not much good if you just throw it in the water, kinda need the hook, line and sinker too. Feeding the fish is a kind thing though.

Tasmanian Jesus

You dont need a sinker, been fishing for years without one.
A floater is more handy.

Dennis Elbow

He mimed cooking on stage for that one.


Not sure about that. As much as I like Saka, he has one assist from the last 6 premier league matches. I would put money on Pepe producing more end product from those fixtures.


Agreed and Pepe is the more senior. This is about control but I am about goals, not control. Arteta should be put on the dole, possibly replaced by Ashley Cole. Or would we just be in a bigger hole?

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Saka hasn’t been up to last season’s standard, but he hasn’t been terrible. He’s done some good things, and also been unlucky


I agree, I also think Pepe is wasted on the bench.

I would try Pepe right, ESR in the middle, and Saka left with Auba up front and two midfielders behind. I think Tavares or Tierney would combine well with Saka and ESR could support the right side when needed.


The biggest problem would be on the right if we do this. Pepe stays up, slows down play and would be helped with an overlapping full back, which is just NOT why Tomi is. So, to keep the system stable, we need Tomi which also means we need Saka on the right or maybe ESR.

This may not be Pepe’s flaw but just the way he plays. Pepe through the middle may be something to try against the weaker teams…ahem, if there are any!


People forget that saka is a named player now, teams will research him like hell before they face him in order to shut him down.

Nostalgic Gooner

Unfortunately Arteta wants to play a certain type of football which needs City type talent in every position. We don’t need to build our team around Pepe but we should be looking to maximise his talent, chaos and finishing. He was second only to Mbappe in France and that was no accident.

Johnny 4 Hats

That seems to be a common take and a criticism that has dogged him since his tenure began. I must say I find it hard to believe that Arteta would come into a job at a top eight club and assume that these players could perform the same as elite, world class footballers. He probably deserves a bit more credit than that. From what I can see, Arteta is a real mix of Moyes, Wenger and Pep. I feel like phase one (which we are in) is more Moyes inspired. Step two (which we are moving towards) is Wenger ball… Read more »

Nostalgic Gooner

We should be getting more out of our existing players. The best managers improve their existing players. I want to see us getting more out of Pepe, getting more goals from Auba (who used to be one of the most feared strikers in Europe) and getting more out of Saka and Odegaard (who seem to be stalling).

The Beast

I think maybe that’s down to a focus on gaining & maintaining defensive stability. Can’t remember exactly but the last time Auba won golden boot we weren’t exactly convincing defensively. For all his talents, I don’t think one of Pepe’s strong points is positional discipline when we don’t have the ball. It is one of Saka’s though, which is why I think he brings more to the team even though he’s not scoring or assisting as much as we’d like (I think that’s why Southgate likes him so much as well). Hopefully we’ll get to the point where Pepe is… Read more »


I think your right, Saka has stalled a little bit which is to be expected for someone so young. I really think we can get more out of Pepe, he has some serious talent but is also very raw in other areas, these things can be worked on. I wouldn’t sell him. We need to be really looking for a top level striker to take over from Auba and that can mix it up with maybe Balogun. I am very worried about this whole Newcastle takeover thing, they could be the next City.

A Different George

There are surely grounds to be critical of Arteta as a manager, but a lot of the critics of our attacking play seemed unaware of the obvious, that the falloff in attack was largely caused by the greatly strengthened defensive game. An easy example: Liverpool’s last two goals (a counter exploiting the vast spaces we left behind as we pushed forward) were the first of that type we have conceded in a very long time. But they were very common, almost the classic Arsenal “naive” goal, in the not-too-distant past. We don’t do that anymore, and inevitably we score fewer… Read more »


He’s brain dead off the ball though mate, runs round like a headless chicken. That wouldn’t do in any top 6 Prem team. He’s better suited to the Italian League,

Hope he plays against Toon, scores a hat-trick and they go in big for him 💰

Man Manny

I was one of those who felt a year out of Europe would be a blessing for Arsenal. I don’t think so a
Pepe, AMN, Chambers, Mari, Holding, Leno, Cedric, Elneny, Ødegaard, and maybe Nketiah would have benefitted from Thursday night football.
These guys definitely won’t get back their fitness/form by warming the bench.
The advantage of fewer matches might begin to show in the run-in, but for now, Arteta has a tough job keeping the squad motivated and battle ready.


Really misleading title unless there are comments not quoted.
He never said NOT SELLING. He said he wants him him perform.
Of course I am no so sure who can perform from the bench.
IMHO Pepe is better than what MA is getting from. In any case the big loss is again on Arsenal as our assets overall value diminishes


Pepe have all the attributes needed to play as a striker. With auba out of form and team not set up to play to his strength, I see no reason pepe cannot be tried there for a few games to see how he performs. If its even as a sub for a few games. Other than lacazette he is the only attacker we have who can actually hold the ball up. Unlike auba he can create a goal and beat a man. Get pepe closer to goal and you will see a different player to what we are seeing now.… Read more »

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Aubameyang is actually in form – 9 goals in 17 games this season for club and country is a very decent return – that’s even after a couple of saved penalties. I’d certainly keep him as our #9.

Creating chances seems to be the underlying issue. Saka is out of form if anyone, but it’s hard to see Arteta dropping him for Pepe. Although Newcastle at home is as good a time as any to tweak the team. Personally hoping Odegaard comes back in.


Take out 3 goals in league cup against a league one team and it’s 6/16…not so hot for a guy that HAS to score to impact since he makes almost no contribution to creating goals.

Fireman Sam

Yep would be good to see Pepe up front to see what he can do. He’s got a Podolski-like shot and decent body strength to hold up play.

Merlin’s Panini

Managers talk like this all the time to protect an asset. I’m not convinced he really wants him. If he did he’d be getting more game time. I want to see him a lot more over the next month, especially with him heading to AFCON and needing the other players in that position to be fit while he’s gone. A bit of rotation would be handy right about now in my opinion.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

I’d sell Pepe, he just hasn’t done enough. There’s a few wide players in the league I’d take over him. Sarr and Harvey Barnes, to name a few who might be on the easier side to sign

Wrighty’s hats

I think we need to boss the midfield a bit better, no matter the opposition. The middle of the park is going to be where we translate our recently strengthened defence into proper attacking threat. I was thinking: Sambi and Partey (swapping in AMN depending on opposition and fixture list – busy few weeks ahead!) ESR or MO slightly forward of them, centrally Saka Auba Pepe In a type of 4-3-3. I think against lower level opposition we can afford to have ESR out on the wing as we have of late, but he’s stronger in the middle so if… Read more »

Pepe’s got one hell of a nerve wanting to sell Arteta.

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