Tuesday, May 24

Is this the reason that Nicolas Pepe is being frozen out of the Arsenal side?

Is this the reason that Nicolas Pepe is being frozen out of the Arsenal side? Is this the reason that Nicolas Pepe is being frozen out of the Arsenal side?

Is this the reason that Nicolas Pepe is being frozen out of the Arsenal side?

AFCON calling

Ah, the Africa Cup of Nations.

The midseason tournament which sees some of the best players in the world depart their club sides for up to a month to fight it out to become champions on a football-mad continent.

This season, it is due to take place in January as normal, leaving the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all without some of their star men.

For the Gunners, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey will all be jetting off, Covid-19 permitting, to represent their countries at the tournament. Could this be playing a role in Mikel Arteta’s selection?

The curious case of Nicolas Pepe

Last season, Nicolas Pepe registered 10 goals and an assist in 29 Premier League appearances, which was enough to see him finish as the joint second-top goalscorer in the side, alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and only behind Alexandre Lacazette.

This season, however, the Ivorian has played just 7 times in the Premier League, of which only five were starts, and has seen just five minutes of action in the last 7 Premier League outings. For a man who remains the club-record signing, it is baffling.

Even in their last three defeats, one of the biggest goal threats has been nowhere to be seen.

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To confuse matters further, when Gabriel Martinelli went down injured, it was soon to be out of contract striker Eddie Nketiah that replaced him, rather than the natural winger still committed to the club for a further 2 and a half years.

Quizzed on it after the lacklustre defeat to Everton, Arteta revealed:

“He does every day in training what you see him do here. Every single day. That’s why I picked him”

Eddie seems likely to stay in January, if only due to a lack of alternatives in the attacking third.

Knowing that Aubameyang and Partey will both be departing anyway, and with the Africa Cup of Nations around the corner, is Mikel Arteta desperately trying to find solutions to his attacking problems without Pepe, who he is also set to lose for a month in January?

Read more:

Chelsea handed another major injury boost as starlet set to return to action

Martin Odegaard reveals the fatal flaw in Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 15 23 35
2 Liverpool FC 15 32 34
3 Chelsea FC 15 26 33
4 West Ham United 15 9 27
5 Tottenham Hotspur 14 -1 25
6 Manchester United 15 1 24
7 Arsenal FC 14 -3 23
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 -1 21
9 Brighton & Hove Albion 15 -2 20
10 Aston Villa 15 -3 19
11 Leicester City 15 -4 19
12 Brentford FC 15 -2 17
13 Crystal Palace 15 -2 16
14 Leeds United 15 -7 16
15 Southampton FC 15 -7 16
16 Everton FC 14 -7 15
17 Watford FC 15 -9 13
18 Burnley FC 14 -7 10
19 Newcastle United 15 -13 10
20 Norwich City 15 -23 10
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 13
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 6
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 6
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 6
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 6
Raphinha Leeds United 6
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United 6
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 6
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 5
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 5
King, Joshua Watford FC 5
Gray, Demarai Everton FC 5
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 5
Pukki, Teemu Norwich City 5
Cornet, Maxwel Burnley FC 5
Sarr, Ismaila Watford FC 5
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