Arsenal legend Alan Smith has explained why Nicolas Pepe is a problem for manager Mikel Arteta after his difficult start to life at the Emirates Stadium.
Pepe looked a world class performer at previous club Lille, but has been slow to settle at Arsenal so far, with Arteta seeming to increasingly leave him out of his starting line up.
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The Ivory Coast international could still come good for Arsenal, but Smith admits the problem for Arteta is the pressure to play him when he’s not performing.
This pressure comes from the money the Gunners paid for Pepe, and the hype surrounding the deal, which seemed hugely exciting at the time.
Speaking to 101greatgoals, former Arsenal striker Smith said: “Well Nicolas Pepe is a problem in a way because he cost so much money.
“To a certain extent you’re under a little bit of pressure to play him even if you don’t start him. He has disappointed.
“I was hoping in his second season that he would kick on. Clearly, Arsenal paid far too much money for him. Willian has been brought in who can play on the right-hand side although he is a much different player, but much more reliable.”
Arsenal could really do with Pepe showing some improvement soon, as he clearly hasn’t just lost that natural ability overnight.
The 25-year-old still has time to rediscover his best form and revive his career, and if he can do it soon he’d surely be an important part of an Arsenal side that has lacked spark in attack this season.