Arsenal have been frustrated lately, but Nicolas Pepe continues to trend positive. Here are three big improvements he’s made.
You know the drill. Anytime a team breaks the bank on a player, the expectations he carries are ridiculously high. Arsenal knew that risk when they shelled out record money for Nicolas Pepe. But we also should have known that acclimation takes time. Which is a concept some people are still struggling to understand.
Pepe did not start well at the club. It’s like he was trying to change the world with a touch of the ball. Which often led to heavy, ineffectual touches, as well as lost possession and compiling frusrtration. (And SkySports disapproval.)
Fast forward to his latest outing against Sheffield United and we can see first hand that Pepe is learning and he is improving. And what do I always say? As long as a guy is improving, then I’m pleased. What more can we ask?
It’s not just in goal production, though he has sneakily become one of our top goal producers. It’s in so many other things that make him a continual presence in a match throughout. And he’s staying on the pitch longer now too.
Clearly I’m not the only one seeing improvements in him.
But I want to take the time now to draw specific attention to the improvements that we are witnessing in his match day progress. Three improvements in particular. We start with No. 3.
When Pepe first arrived, he had one big move—the cutback. Everyone knew he favored his left foot and he wasn’t trying to fool anyone. He would always drive down the left and then pull back to try to find a shot.
Not so anymore. It was capped off by Sheffield United, but for awhile now, I’ve found myself trying to predict Pepe’s next move, and it’s not an easy thing to do. He is varying his tactics. He isn’t just cutting back. He can take the ball to the corner, he can stall and drive straight at the defense, he can do a lot of things.
And in return, that cutback is becoming more and more effective.
Next up, improvement No. 2.