Pepe is one of many Arsenal players away on international duty. French outlet Canal Plus have apparently stuck a microphone under his nose and asked him about his lack of playing time for the club.
‘A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again. He [Arteta] wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match. Afterwards, I see during training that I will be a substitute the following weekend.
But the coach speaks to me, he also has assistants who are there for that. But it is frustrating for any player to be on the bench. ‘A super-sub role? The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.’
I’m sure it’s frustrating for any footballer to be on the bench but it’s also frustrating for a manager and us fans to see the same players underperforming each time they do play. Personally, I don’t give a toss whether a footballer costs the club £70 odd million or £7 million, hard work and doing a good job is all anyone expects from them. Ollie Watkins cost Aston Villa £27 million, he came from Brentford, the Championship and yet he ripped our team to shreds with consummate ease. Pepe should be doing something similar to opponents in the Premier League but he barely stamps his mark in the Europa League fixtures. Nelson and Willock are outshining him and he should be embarrassed. I don’t want to be overly critical because none of our forward players are exactly tearing it up in the League but if a player wants to be playing more then do more during a match.
Would you select him if you were Mikel Arteta? I know I wouldn’t, not for League fixtures that’s for sure. Which is exactly why I think Arteta is opting for Willian instead although he’s hardly justifying his selection either. Dani Ceballos is industrious and despite it meaning he’d be playing out of his natural position, I’d rather he played out on the right if Nelson really isn’t considered to be ready by Arteta. Heck, I’d rather AMN because at least he’ll get up and down the pitch to help Bellerin out.
One player who hasn’t headed out on international duty is Thomas Partey which on one hand is good news but on the other, it means his injury is perhaps worse than first thought. Two weeks of rest and recuperation will hopefully see him back in the frame for the Leeds match.
Leno, Bellerin, Gabriel, Tierney, Saka, AMN, Aubameyang, Runarsson, Pepe, Elneny, Xhaka, Kolasinac and Nketiah are those who will be playing for their respective countries over the next two weeks. Some of them have three fixtures crammed in which is ridiculous.
Thankfully though, that’s it for international fixtures for this year so Mikel Arteta and his coaches can get on with the domestic challenge and getting this team clicking.
Lastly, we’re heading towards another transfer window which will be here before we know it. Rumours are already flying around with the latest being 20 year old Dominik Szoboszlai who has been at RB Salzburg since 2018. He’s made 73 appearances and been involved in a 54 goals. Sports outlet Index (via Team Talk) are the ones claiming the young Hungarian is on Mike Arteta’s radar .
Oh to have a midfielder capable of producing those kind of stats eh? Perhaps we already have in Joe Willock, just not yet.
See you in the comments guys.