Nicolas Pepe: the new Granit Xhaka.
Not, y’know, in the sense of style, obviously, but certainly when it comes to causing a divide in the Arsenal fanbase.
Is he terrible?
Is he being misused?
Has he had long enough?
Has he done enough?
Whatever one’s opinion may be on Nicolas Pepe, nobody can confidently claim he’s been consistent. Ah, no, can’t use that one either, since other players will be brought into question who themselves haven’t shown consistency.
Right, never mind, let’s just get into the report card.
Some players are classed as scorers of great goals, not great goalscorers. Using a similar(ish) adage, Pepe is a player of great moments, not great performances.
Capable of being infuriatingly underwhelming for large patches of matches, he has this knack of laying off an assist or finding the back of the net when you’re baying for him to be hauled off.
What’s good this season, is that he hasn’t lost that capability. That magic touch is still there. The flair and explosion hasn’t vanished.
So, why do we see it so irregularly?
Dissecting all the ins and outs of his best and worst traits, confidence and despondency, has been done before. We shan’t repeat ourselves.
But we can owe a degree of understanding to the Ivorian having played his best game in an Arsenal shirt in the FA Cup final to then only be demoted to the bench this Premier League season.
He has to find a level of consistency.
How much of that is on him and how much of the manager not picking him is another debate that is sure to split opinion. As supporters we don’t care what the solution is, as long as the ends justify the means.
Best Moment – Screamer Against Dundalk
All of the above? Precisely what we saw at home to Dundalk.
OK, Pepe was slightly better in the first half than he was against Molde, but it doesn’t deviate the point: bland for [x] minutes, then pulls out something incredible.
The goal against the Irish side was quite magnificent, from the control, to the rolling of the ball with his studs then the right-footed thunderbolt with almost no backlift. It’s early days, but it’s on course to be the best goal Arsenal will score this season. At least individually speaking.
Nicolas Pepe’s Arsenal Rating