The Curious Case Of Nicolas Pepe

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Cast your mind back to the summer transfer window. After a long period of enduring a seemingly never-ending wave of banter because of a supposed “£45m” transfer budget Arsenal went all out and acquired the services of, at the time, one of the hottest talents in Europe – Nicolas Pepe.

Social media was going crazy with news of Pepe’s arrival. After all the Gunners had just signed a seemingly world-class talent who was expected lead them back into a top-four spot.

Fast forward to December – Arsenal are closer to the relegation zone than they are to 4th place and the club’s fans have had to settle for mere glimpses of Nicolas Pepe’s ability as opposed to the free-scoring displays of sheer attacking dominance that they were promised based on Pepe’s performances for Lille in the 2018/19 Ligue 1 campaign.

Not too long ago, Nicolas Pepe was linked with moves to Barcelona, PSG and Liverpool after enjoying an incredible individual campaign where he scored 22 goals and made 11 assists for Lille.

Now, after spending five months at Arsenal Pepe has struggled to replicate the form that made them sign him in the first place.

Pepe has made 13 appearances in the Premier League this season, five of which came off the bench. In those appearances, the Ivory Coast international has scored just one goal and registered two assists.

To be fair to Pepe, bar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, pretty much everybody in the Arsenal squad has been underperforming all season long. Hence; considering the fact that Pepe has only just recently walked into a dysfunctional outfit, in a foreign and more demanding league, he deserves some time to truly discover his form.

However, despite the fact that Pepe needs some time to be able to consistently perform at the peak of his powers, the level he has proven to be at for Arsenal is worrying to say the very least.

Just how much time can Arsenal afford to give him before the ‘flop tag’ actually sticks?

Realistically, Pepe has to turn up for the Gunners in the second half of the Premier League campaign because at this point it feels like Arsenal have spent the first half of the season without the real Nicolas Pepe.

Pepe needs to find his form going into the second half of the Premier League campaign, not just for his sake, but for Arsenal’s as well.

If he is able to replicate the form that sparked the interest of nearly every major club in Europe going into the second half of the season, then the second half of Arsenal’s Premier League season will be guaranteed to be better than their first.

It remains to be seen if Pepe will be able to find his form for Arsenal, but one thing is certain – if he does manage to perform at the peak of his powers over the next six months, then Arsenal will have a chance, albeit slim, of breaking into the top four.

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