With Arsenal in need of a goal during the second half of yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Norwich, it was somewhat surprising that Freddie Ljungberg didn’t turn to Nicolas Pepe. Football fanatics from around the world can obtain Premier League Tickets online to enjoy its stunning performances.
The interim head coach did introduce Bukayo Saka in the 78th minute, and Gabriel Martinelli very late on, but the £72m summer arrival from Lille remained unused by the end.
It led to a question after the game as to why the record signing had not played any part, to which Ljungberg replied, “Pepe is a very good player. As I said, I try to look at what players have done in training and that’s how I judge them.”
“What I saw in the first 30 minutes and the belief and how we played that was good. Offensively that was good.
“I don’t know if you saw it but when we went 1-0 down, the players weren’t shaking their heads, they were actually going ‘come on guys we can sort this out’. That shows they believe they are quality players.
“We need to change a negative trend plus, with our run that was a difficult game and the players did really well.”
Ljungberg added that everyone has a clean slate after he took over from Unai Emery on Friday.
Freddie Ljungberg Further Added:
The Swede said: “I haven’t had that word with them but that’s how it works for me. I’ve been here for three months and last year I was with the Under-23s so I saw every first-team game so I have an opinion of how we can play but I try to see it as everyone has a fair chance.
It’s an interesting answer and one that will surely raise further questions about the Ivorian’s slow start to life in North London.
Perhaps the frustration felt with Unai Emery meant it was easy to point the finger at him for not using the winger, but if Freddie is also raising some doubts, perhaps there are issues behind the scenes we’re not aware of.
Pepe has played 785 of a potential 1260 Premier League minutes so far this season, some of which can be put down to his late arrival, and a summer in which he didn’t have a proper pre-season.
But its December now, so fitness issues should be a consideration, and he’s played just 58 minutes in total of our last four league games. He was also left on the bench for the duration of our 2-1 Europa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt last week.
It does suggest there’s work to do, both on the player’s side and the club in order to figure out how to get the best out a player that costs so much money, but for now, it remains an unhappy time all concerned.
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