Mikel Arteta has Nicolas Pepe has a ‘different energy’ since he returned from the African Cup of Nations and hopes the winger can play a big part in Arsenal’s Premier League run-in.
The 26-year-old was one of Ivory Coast’s standout performers in Cameroon, scoring twice and making an assist before his country crashed out on penalties to Egypt in the last 16.
Arteta is now hoping a player who hasn’t started a league game since mid-October can come to the fore, just like he did this time last year.
“Since he’s come back from the AFCON, I’ve seen a different Nico,” Arteta said ahead of the Gunners’ clash with Brentford
“I don’t know what it is, probably he’s realised the importance of the end of the season for him. He had a brilliant end of the season last year, he can replicate that.
“We need him. We need him at his best because everybody is going to contribute. We are a really short squad at the moment and we need him. Hopefully, he’s understood that we want to play him that we don’t want a player like him sitting on the bench and not using him. The moment I have a chance, I want to give him a chance.”
Asked to outline what’s changed about the player, he continued: “His attitude, his smile, the way he’s communicating with everybody, his energy, the way he’s trained, his efficiency in training, his application.
“His energy has changed, I don’t know what it is, I think he felt important again. Probably he felt like a proper football player that can win tournaments and he felt, “okay, this is me now” and he needed that. I’m really pleased with that.”
It remains to be seen whether Pepe remains at Emirates Stadium past the summer.
Despite flashes of brilliance, he’s always looked burdened by the whopping £72 million price tag the club paid to Lille in 2019 and there have been rumours we could be open to selling him for less than a third of that before he enters the final two years of his contract.
While Arteta hopes Pepe sees his long-term future at the club, he didn’t sound overly convincing on the subject.
“I hope he does but I understand as well that when a player doesn’t play, he’s disappointed and Nico has been disappointed because he wanted more minutes. Hopefully, he can play more minutes and he can contribute to the team because he has the ability to do it.”
Pretty candid from Mikel. Clearly has/had an issue with his attitude. Trend emerging here – is it that we have an unusually high amount of players with bad attitude or is Mikel a little bit overly strict? I support firm management and cultural alignment but I am nervous about this happening again with future players.
Pleased to hear the relationship is improving – whether he’s in our long term plans or not a good working relationship can only be a good thing
Mikel has an issue with attitudes like Mr Burns had an issue with sideburns. Pepe’s improved ‘attitude and energy’ gained at AFCON will evaporate with a few weeks on bench. He’ll be the next guy in the doghouse
I’m sure it’s not as black and white as that and no doubt pepe has to take a degree of responsibility – but just cautious that top players are never going to be ego-free and top managers need to manage that and work out a solution rather than just freeze them out every time
Sure Pepe has to take some responsibility. But when you don’t play for months it’s natural to lose enthusiasm & motivation. We don’t have insight into the inner workings but I get the sense that Arteta has difficulty with getting the most from a broad range of personalities. I predicted Pepe was next to go straight after Auba was moved on. Assuming everyone is fit, if Pepe starts and plays a decent game do you believe he’ll displace anyone from the team? Odegaard, Saka, ESR, and maybe Laca are untouchable in my view. Maybe could displace Martinelli? If past experience… Read more »
I don’t believe it is an ego thing. More of a personalities and playing styles thing. Hypothetically I don’t think the likes of Kanu, Alexis, Arshavin, Lehmann and the like would have been tolerated or given much game time.
Which I find shocking tbh. Go and spend 5 minutes looking at any ten goals from those players and you will see more exciting football than we get by far.
One thing I would say about Artea that is over looked. He spent 2 years or more at City where he saw first hand player culture and behaviour acceptable to the club that made them serial winners. This talk about he keeps falling out with players is nonsense and look at what those City players say about him. They didn’t have to say anything. Maybe this is what Arsenal have lacked when we won trophies but didn’t keep winning the following season/s. I think Arteta’s coaching and man management is good. Where he lacks experience is calling the shots/final decision… Read more »
The thing which is truly overlooked is that “player culture and behaviour acceptable to the club” aren’t what has made Manchester City “serial winners”.
Ouch, but Chelsea have had the same money for even longer. Pep has his methods and it’s working. Money is primary, no one is discounting it but culture, for a club which isn’t blessed with money, is paramount. No?!
Sure, but I’m unconvinced that same culture can have a similar effect without the money.
It’s easy to insist on everybody having the highest standards when you have two world-class players for each position.
Maybe Mikel isn’t willing to let expensive, pampered players waste their opportunities.
Especially when they cost as much as a whole championship football club.
I’m happy with that
It’s all a bit chicken and egg. Was Pepe not playing because his attitude was poor, or was his attitude poor because he wasn’t getting opportunities?
It could just be Pepe is not good enough to displace, Saka, ESR or Martinelli. If he gets his chance he needs to take it with a performance. He’s got the attributes and can work hard defensively, just needs to be more direct.
Not displacing Saka, ESR or Martinelli in the first 11 is one thing, but being overlooked by Eddie Nketiah from the bench is quite another.
We’re in the race for the top 4. I’d say the strictness is working
Pick Nico ahead of wantaway Eddie. Please…
This is really good to hear. We will need to rely more on our wide forwards to make goal contributions in our bid to push for a Champions League spot. Nico has the talent for sure. Let’s hope he can reach that level we know he is capable of consistently until the end of the season.
I actually forgot that he plays for us.
I guess he’s lans
I don’t think Arteta wants Pepe at the club long term. If a solid offer comes in for him this summer, I don’t see Arteta putting up a big fight to keep him.
And I’m starting to agree with arteta. It’s taken a long time for me to get on board with his ideals, but look at united (they are what we were for 3/4 seasons which numerous managers cannot solve).
I look at jota at pool. He scores in 3 consecutive games and then gets dropped but keeps going no complaints in the papers, no sulking etc. I couldn’t believe city let sane go at the time.
Out of 10 players arteta outcasts he will prob get 2 wrong but it’s probably worth a 80% success record over the long term
I think maybe agents have been giving players bad advice in last few years when it came to arsenal. Maybe a case of hey aubamayang/ Willian look at ozil getting 350k a week suck them dry/ run down your contracts you owe them nothing etc, etc. I think arteta is fighting many battles from past cultures and hopefully it will be a put to bed now
He scores 5+ goals before the end of the season.
“We have a really short squad”
Is Chris Samba still available?
Foreshadowing for Pepe in Martinelli’s starting spot or will he try Ode and ESR together??
If he was not like this prior, and his mindset is this fragile and interchangeable, rid.
Mediocre mindset, mediocre team.
Elite mindset, is aspring to be great, each minute, of each day, of each week.
By great, I just mean give whatever you’re absolute best is. Can’t do any more than that.
Elite mindset goes to City/Liverpool/Chelsea/United
That’s the issue we have until we get back to top 4 at least.
I’m getting déjà vu. Didn’t Arteta say near the exact same thing last year?
And didn’t Pepe have one helluva second half of the season last year?
I really hope he (Pepe) can be sold at some decent price like 20+ mil allowing us to reinvest
Reinvest? That wouldn’t even cover what’s still owed to Lille.
You have to love all these armchair managers that somehow would have played Pepe more after all those underwhelming games he had for us. Yeah like they are dropping Saka for him..or sticking him on the other wing instead of ESR or Martinelli. No you effing wouldnt. You would do exactly the same esp when every game is must-win. You’d opt for Saka/ESR/Martinelli if you could. And if the player doesn’t realise what he has to do to get back in the team that’s on him, not the manager. But. Players are human. They lose focus or confidence and it… Read more »
Well bloody said mate
His output is greater than those he would displace. I absolutely would start Pepe and I would fill his head with confidence, bravado, swagger.
°Mikel just needs to admit that he doesn’t know what to do with Pepe. The Ivorian hasnt played fkr rhe half of the season. Then he flies out to Cameroon and shows what he can do.
Mikel is now trying to say that Nico wasn’t being picked because of attitude? We all know that Bukayo is ahead of him and we understand that. Let him not lie about it.
I rather have Nico to cover Laca in games as he holds the ball better than Eddie. Just that Nico is a flair player, if he can channel more of his effort and stamina in pressing the opponents, Arteta has no reason to keep him on the bench for long.
His first touch is horrible, the ball bounces away from him by a metre or spins up to his chest so that all momentum is lost.
But he shoots better than Eddie, so by all means give it a try…
I totally understand him not starting over Martinelli, ESR or Saka. The thing is I remember back to back games against ManU and Everton, two close games and we subbed on Nketiah instead. That I don’t get. Everton being the worst, Nketiah came on for Martinelli, playing out wide with 29 minutes left to play. Then next game he brings on Pepe for 7 minutes when we are winning 3-0 against Southampton. I’m really not sure what mind game was being used there. Arteta has done well mostly but sometimes there are a few headscratching decisions. Please no more Nketiah… Read more »
I love the guy, plays with a smile on his face, popular with team mates and I don’t see any issue with his work rate.
The problem is he’s a one-trick pony, devastating when he cuts in from the right wing, toothless when you force him onto his right foot.
Breaks my heart to say this, but the sooner we can offload him the better.
22,222 days since Sp/rs won the league today!
Please help their fans celebrate…
Would be very interested in seeing him tried at CF, certainly ahead of Nketiah if not Lacazette. Think he could bring something different to the role, and it’s one that I believe accentuates his main strength, finishing. A Martinelli, Pepe, Saka front 3 has the potential to be a real handful for prem defences.
The problem with Pepe as CF, and the reason we haven’t seen him play there, is probably ball retention. His first touch, and distribution in crowded areas, is likely not at the level required in the system we play, and it throws off the whole system. It’s a much harder role that Laca plays, than it looks. It’s probably the only role we’re prepared to throw silly money at for the right individual
This would be the sensible thing for Arteta to do considering the strikers we have. Pepe scores goals; and we are going to need every goal we can get in the run in. I have a feeling the race for top 4 will end up being a shoot out between us and Man United – if Chelsea is not reined in for a 3-horse race for 3rd and 4th – and goals will be the deciding factor. I would put Pepe ahead of Nketiah in the pecking order. If he helps shoot us into top 4, that alone is worth… Read more »
Player plays, player has more positive energy. Player doesn’t play for months, player doesn’t have much positive energy. I’m not sure this is a particularly eye opening incite from MA.