Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has sent a warning to the club’s record signing Nicolas Pepe after his slow start to the season.
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Wenger said that the Ivorian could soon lose his place in the starting XI to the youngsters if he doesn’t work harder.
Wenger told Omnisport: “I like the player and I thought it was a good decision. He’s not yet completely adapted and you have to give him some time.”
“On the other hand, I must say we have good young players who can play on the flanks, that he will have a fight to keep his position.” (Source: Omnisport via The Sun)
Wenger’s warning to Pepe (the club’s record signing) seems to be based on the hard work of the Ivory Coast international. In the Premier League, Pepe hasn’t looked at his best when being asked to track back and help out with defensive work. He has averaged one or more in just one of the eight defensive categories on WhoScored.com.
In stark contrast, Bukayo Saka averages the most tackles and has made the second-most fouls of any player in the Arsenal squad. While the fouls show he can be rash, they also show Saka’s commitment to helping the Gunners in defending.
Gabriel Martinelli has also shown his drive and determination in working hard for Emery’s side. In his cameo off the bench against Bournemouth on the weekend, the Brazilian won the joint-most tackles of any player on the pitch and two aerial duels despite not starting the game (via Daily Cannon). His substitute appearance showed his hunger and enthusiasm in helping the team see their slender 1-0 lead out.
While Pepe is older and has more quality, as shown during his last season with Lille, he needs to be wary of the youngsters who have shown they work harder in helping the team. His starting berth in the side is under threat and his performances need to improve if he is to retain it.
Arsenal fans, would you replace Pepe in the starting XI with one of Martinelli or Saka? Let us know your thoughts!
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