Arsenal’s record signing Nicolas Pepe has endured a tough start to his career as the Ivorian has struggled to nail a starting spot in Arteta’s first-team. Mikel Arteta has repeatedly asked Pepe to perform consistently in order to improve his chances of playing more regularly for Arsenal. However, the Ivorian’s hopes were dented when he was sent off against Leeds United for headbutting Alioski. Arteta was critical of Pepe’s performance and said the winger had let the team down.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand feels Pepe might be struggling to perform due to the heavy transfer fee Arsenal paid to sign him. Speaking on the FIVE Youtube channel Ferdinand said “All you Arsenal fans who are always there and are quick to shout and laugh and smile and celebrate. Listen, it’s good, that’s what football is about. Your emotions can go crazy, I’ve been there and done it. “Ole’s at the wheel”, that kind of stuff. But you guys are struggling again, you can’t get over the line again.
Nicolas Pepe let you down, I don’t understand it. You’re a player who said before the international break that he wants to get back into the team, that he needs his chance and he’s not happy. You get given your opportunity and you do something so ridiculously stupid and get sent off. It doesn’t make sense. You let your team-mates down and yourself down. I want to see Pepe do well. I saw him at Lille, beautiful footballer with skills. He needs to do it at Arsenal. The big fee brings pressure and he’s not dealing with it right now.”
The victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford seemed to have raised the spirits of revival under Arteta in the Gunners camp . However, Arsenal have since lost to Aston Villa and were lucky to nip a point against Leeds United. Ferdinand has urged Arsenal to get their tactics right as the Gunners have scored just nine goals in nine fixtures, their lowest tally since 1986-87 season. The defender added “They’re not firing. They can’t get Aubameyang going, they can’t get him scoring after he signed the new deal. ‘He hasn’t set the world alight at all. He was on fire before that. They haven’t got that fluidity which we’ve seen before with Arteta’s team. Things aren’t coming off for them, they need to get it right quick. I saw Holding when the whistle went, delighted and fist-pumping. I can understand that but I’m sure they will be looking for more because they were very fortunate to come away with a point because Leeds opened them up on numerous occasions. ‘They couldn’t believe their luck. When Leeds came off that pitch, they were trudging off thinking “how the hell have we not won that game“