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Flashback: Nicolas Pepe follows in Sylvain Wiltord’s footsteps after scoring first Arsenal goal

In our latest instalment of the Transfer Flashback series, we take a look at Sylvain Wiltord’s short but trophy-laden Arsenal career after Nicolas Pepe’s first goal for the Gunners drew some strange parallels with the former French striker.

15 years is a long time – particularly if it’s spent waiting for a league title to turn up in North London.

While the white half has arguably come closer to doing so in recent years, the red half certainly has plenty of previous when it comes to (relatively) recent championship wins – and despite Arsenal not troubling the summit of the Premier League in the past few seasons, the weekend’s events gave a perfect excuse to reminisce over happier times in N5.

Or to be exact, to remember a player whose goal at Old Trafford secured the Gunners a second double in four years.

Even if the abiding memory of Sylvain Wiltord’s time at Arsenal is that finish at Old Trafford, the parallels between the Frenchman and Arsenal’s current record signing are borderline spooky given the weekend’s events. Still, any reason to bring up the fact that the Gunners used to be solid title contenders, right?

He may not have realised it himself, but for Nicolas Pepe, scoring in a 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa was also a feat recorded by Wiltord in the 2001/02 season – at a time when the Frenchman was the club’s most pricey acquisition – after signing from Bordeaux for over £15m in August 2000.

That’s not to say Pepe will lead Arsenal to glory in the same way, but if you’re a believer in omens, this is what you can look forward to…

Wiltord may only have been an Arsenal player for four seasons, but his input has ensured he is etched into Gunners history forever.

Fresh from helping France to European Championship glory, Wiltord was hardly a prolific goalscorer for the club (peaking with a total of 16 in 2001/02), though he had contributed to two league titles and two FA Cups whilst at Highbury – becoming an ‘Invincible’ in the process.

His exploits were consistent if not extravagant, with the Frenchman improving his league goal tally each year before becoming limited in a lesser role following the arrival of Jose Antonio Reyes at Arsenal.

With Pepe scoring 23 last season – comfortably greater than Wiltord’s best tally for Arsenal – the Ivorian is certainly capable of usurping his predecessor as the Gunners’ record buy in terms of goals – though a more desirable aim may come in the shape of delivering trophies, as Wiltord did, to Arsenal once again.

Arsenal fans, what are your memories of Sylvain Wiltord? Let us know in the comments below!

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Flashback: Nicolas Pepe follows in Sylvain Wiltord’s footsteps after scoring first Arsenal goal
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Article title: Flashback: Nicolas Pepe follows in Sylvain Wiltord’s footsteps after scoring first Arsenal goal

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