July 28, 2021

SportsOnly

Football and other sports news

Pepe unhappy with bench role at Arsenal

2 min read

Nicolas Pepe has expressed frustration with his role at Arsenal, but is determined to knuckle down and prove to manager Mikel Arteta that he is deserving of a starting spot in the team.

The Ivory Coast international was a club-record signing from Lille in the summer of 2019, and in his first campaign at the club he showed flashes of the quality that persuaded the Gunners to part with £72 million to secure his services.

Pepe scored a goal against Manchester United on New Year’s Day that helped earn Arteta his first win as Gunners boss, while he also played the whole 90 minutes – assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the winning goal – as Arsenal beat Chelsea to lift the FA Cup final.

There are high hopes for the 25-year-old, but he has been restricted to just one start in the Premier League so far this season.

Pepe says he has regular dialogue with Arteta, so is not out in the cold, but the lack of playing time is a source of frustration for the winger.

“My goal is to play more,” Pepe told Canal + . “To have a little more playing time.

Pepe has intimated that Arteta is looking for him to produce his best over the course of 90 minutes, as opposed to the occasional flash of brilliance.

“He (Arteta) wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match,” Pepe said. “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.”

It was put to Pepe that he could develop a reputation as an impact player from the bench, but that is not a role he is keen to settle for.

“A super-sub role? The coach makes his choices,” Pepe said.

IT’S UP TO ME TO SHOW HIM THAT I DON’T HAVE THAT ROLE.

Pepe can turn his focus away from Arsenal as the international break sees his Ivory Coast side take on Madagascar in African Cup of Nations qualifying, but upon his return to north London his sights will be on the trip to Leeds United in the Premier League on November 22.

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