Nicolas Pepe is having a hard time finding his groove at Arsenal. He has to earn his keep, which he knows. And that has nothing to do with money.
If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s the logic of “Arsenal spent £70m on Nicolas Pepe, why’s he sitting on the bench?” That’s bad logic. Awful. That’s like saying “I spent £30,000 on this car, I should be driving it.” On the surface, sure. But you need more details. Did I mention that the car also has two flat tires?
Nicolas Pepe was again left on the bench against Brighton, though he did come on at half (more on that later). As soon as he was left out of the starting XI, the complaints came rolling in. Why spend money on a guy if you don’t plan to use him.
Why make asinine comments if you don’t intent to learn from them? Pepe has had about one good match since joining the club. Which is fine. It happens. But that doesn’t mean you keep playing him just because you spent money on him.
That’s what Arsene Wenger did with Mesut Ozil. Rain, snow, sleet or shine, Mesut Ozil played all of the time. No matter what. And it hurt the club.
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With the club in such desperation, it’s crucial to go with the hot hand. And while neither Unai Emery nor Freddie Ljungberg have/had shown an affinity for doing that, the hot hand has never been Nicolas Pepe.
And again, let me say that I’m not holding that against Pepe. He’s still acclimating. It’s only been a few months. Take care not to forget that.
Before the match, Pepe acknowledged the situation he was in. He mourned the departure of Unai Emery, the man who bought him, but said that he would earn his spot in Ljungberg’s team.
That’s all we need to hear. Game. Set. Match. Pepe gets it, do you? (Cleary not, I was just asking as a courtesy.)
Earning his spot has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with what he does on the pitch and guess what? I’d say after Brighton, seeing how hard he fought for every bit of possession, he earned himself more than a little bit closer to getting back into the starting XI.
Not by way of money, you misers, you. But by way of performance on the pitch. The way things are supposed to work.