Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Arteta unfazed by unhappiness of his benchwarmers

A goal and and two assists against Sunderland, plus the repeated roasting of visitors’ left-back, served as a timely reminder of Nicolas Pepe’s enigmatic talent.

However, it’s not lost on manager Mikel Arteta that the winger is unhappy with his lack of game time.

While the Ivorian completed the full game last night, he’s been unable to shake his status as Premier League benchwarmer since the Gunners drew with Crystal Palace in mid-October.

Ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Norwich, Arteta said: “A player that doesn’t play, if he’s happy you have a big problem and Nico has not been happy, he’s been trying to challenge us and asking us for more minutes because this is what he wants to do and rightly so and this is the attitude that we want from our players.”

Those words came less than 12 hours after he’d laid down the gauntlet to all those on the fringes of his squad.

“It is hard for everyone who doesn’t play,” said Arteta in his post-Sunderland press conference.

“What they have to do is when they have the minutes, show on the pitch that they can do it and they are ready when the team needs him.”

Bernd Leno is another who is feeding off scraps at the moment. The German has had a watching brief since Aaron Ramsdale burst on the scene and it’s widely accepted he’ll depart the club next summer.

Pressed on whether discussions about Leno’s future had taken place, Arteta said: “No, the situation now is that Aaron has been starting the matches in the Premier League and he’s been outstanding.

“Bernd had the chance to play yesterday and he had a really good game and that’s the situation that every single player has in any team in football when somebody else is playing, you are not playing as much and if not, you have to play a different sport.”

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There will be a core of players, not everyone will play every match or they will get injured.

If they aren’t all working hard to get a place then move them on.


I am sure they are both working hard, but a footballer who doesnt play is not a great thing to be, and that isnt about the money they earn.

Johnny 4 Hats

I’ll tell you who is happy. The bench. All those lovely buttocks keeping it nice and toasty.

Mmmnnn. Warm Pepe bum.

Oh no. Leno’s been dropped. Icy cold German bottom. Yuck.

People say Covid has taken its toll on peoples mental health, but I feel fine.




There are always a few on here who try too hard to be funny .

Johnny 4 Hats

I know man. Those guys are so sad.


And why not? My main reason to come here is for the silliness.


A goal and 2 assists .
Should have been 3 at least.


No one questions the obvious talent that Pepe possesses, it’s just his inconsistency that is so frustrating. As for Leno, Aaron is just better.


For me, the $64k question with Pepe has always been – what will/can he do with a consistent run of games? He is most evidently a ‘confidence player’ and seems to be the kind of temperament that feeds on success – certainly that was the case with that great uptick in form he showed some months back?

As I’ve said before – the real tragedy of the disastrous Willian experiment was that Arteta (for reasons still known only to him!) sacrificed the perfect moment to give Pepe that run of games… and just when he was starting to show something.


100% this. I am a Pepe fan personally and can’t understand the position taken on this week’s podcast – that you would want a player like Saka AND Pepe so that Saka would have Pepe’s end product. That WOULD be lovely but end product drives everything and should be taken above all. Pepe is no mug. Will probably smash it at AFCON next.


I’ve noticed that personally I’m becoming more and more a content observer of Arteta’s management of this team, rather than having strong opinions like I used to have in the past. It’s a nice feeling really and almost forgotten one.

Sure, a couple of bad defeats, mixed with weird decisions might probably change that a bit again, but for now I like to just watch and enjoy the direction in which our ship is slowly moving.

Cliff Bastin

It’s really strange how this same manager kept picking Willian last season.


Yep – as an ‘Arteta-in (at least for this season)’ fella – the Willian debacle remains the single biggest blot on Mik’s copybook, imo. As I’ve posted above – if nothing else, it robbed us of the perfect chance to give Pepe a run of games, just when he seemed to be settling into decent form – certainly, he was a shite-load better than Free Willy ever was for us!

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Arteta seems to have moved on from “the senior players get automatic starts and we must rely on their experience to win games” to “I only want to play youngsters who are hungry to win.” He seems to have improved along w the squad.


I’d actually been in this mode you describe for the majority of this season. Success with a young-ish team is rarely ever a linear progression on an upward arc.

I’d decided to enjoy what’s there to be had– and shrug off the worst as growing pains. Leaves me much happier than many I’ll hazard.


Why oh why would you bring Martinelli on for 20min when 4-1 up against a tiring League One side who were becoming increasingly rash in their challenges. There is zero upside. It’s been a great week but there are still befuddling risks taken by Arteta.


completely agree on this. he was destined to get clattered


It was a bit unnecessary but he’s fine so we move on


Some players just need the continuity in the legs or lose form

A Different George

Apart from a player recovering from injury or already in the famous “red zone,” you can’t not put a payer on because he might be injured I think a lot of these concerns are from the old days–when you played away in an early-round Cup tie, the ground was crap, the opponents were unskilled agriculturists, etc. Sunderland didn’t look like that at all–not nearly as skilled as a top side, but not radically different in the way they play.

Steve Vallins

My only problem with Pepe is he loses the ball in midfield and putting us back under pressure , this tends to be him not making a quick enough decision in what to do with the ball or try and get round the opposing player and again lose the ball . This happened a few time last night and against better oppposition we would be punished .


My grumbling/eyerolling usually kicks in if he’s brought to a halt with the ball. His one-on-one tippy tappy show off crap usually never works on the upper tier team’s defenders.

djourou's nutmeg

this. if his dribbling ended up in a killer pass one out of four times, i’d be happy. but it never does. it ALWAYS ends up in him losing the ball or just playing it backwards.


Bit like Granit then – except he scores a lot more goals! LOL


He likes to get in really close to the defender so that if he beats him one v one he’s away. The upside is that the defender finds it harder to recover his position, the downside is that a good one v one defender can nick the ball away from him. Bukayo takes a wider arc of defenders and subsequently loses the ball less often but occassionally a defender can match his pace and cut him off. What I’m trying to say is they play the same role quite differently.


He’s the Jack Leach of the team.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Showing uncharacteristic emotion, Leno yelled at Pepe for losing that ball in midfield and having to make a good save to stop the goal. That was nice to see. Pepe has a lot of talent but a big football brain like Saka and ESR doesn’t appear part of his game. Deadly in the box though. Need to find a way to deploy him so he receives the ball in the box.


A goal and 2 assists contribution from Pepe.


Pepe might not be happy and I totally understand his frustration, but surely he has to know that he hasn’t performed at a high enough level to warrant a starting place? If he played like last night when he plays in the prem, he’d be a starter, but he doesn’t. I wish he did!


I think it’s a bit of inconsistency and not being used well. He and auba are not a good fit (we lose the ball too much and don’t have enough build up between them to create enough) and he’s played mostly with auba. He clearly isn’t an arteta type player – too inconsistent within a game and not technically and tactically disciplined enough… his time might be drawing to a close (euro comp might help that, but he’s a prime candidate for a cashed up Newcastle).

Alan Sunderland

Bet Manchester United are sick Bruce is gone, the Utd old boys always seemed to buy anyone they wanted rid of for over the odds fees.


The jury remains out on Pepe – which is a pity since, as you say, a hot Pepe will only be a huge asset to our club. However – I don’t entirely agree that his inconsistencies are entirely on him: remember that the few ‘runs’ he has been given have been when the team has been disjointed, playing fragmented ‘horseshoe’ tactics and creating one of the lowest striker-chance stats in the PL! Too often, he’s been expected to work miracles off an extremely low base and with almost no team-structure or playing pattern to suit his particular abilities. Even vs… Read more »


Competition for places is wonderful. But the manager has to find a healthy balance. Rotation is healthy too.

Goodly morning

Especially with the youngsters. We need to be careful not to overplay the likes of Saka, Martonelli and ESM.


Martonelli and ESM. Sounds like a DJ pairing.

Announce Bendtner

When a team isn’t doing well the pressure is on the manager to tinker with the starting lineup and try benchwarmers in a hope it will spark a reaction. When a team is doing well then the pressure is on the bench warmer to demonstrate that they can do even better than their counterpart whenever they get a chance. Emile Smith Rowe, who’s not started in PL recently is doing exactly that and is shifting the pressure/headache back to Arteta by consistently delivering off the bench. That’s what we want to see from our players on the bench. Cause that… Read more »


Coming into form just at the right time. Lets hope he takes his chance in the league.


Play a different spot Leno. Aubas out, get your kit on and start banging them in, son.


Careful what you wish for.
Let’s hope Leno doesn’t start “banging them in” like Almunia had.


The problem with pepe and nketiah is they boss games against teams like sunderland, then under perform in league games. I know pepe was ok at the tail end of last season but he hasn’t exactly shown this season why he should be starting in the prem. With saka in his position it will be very hard for him to become a starter. Not taking away that nutmeg and assist though, that sent us all mad in the emirates in tuesday!

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