Ian Wright says Nicolas Pepe is in the ‘last chance saloon’ at Arsenal but urges Mikel Arteta to use the £72m winger more as the Gunners look to replace the firepower of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and climb back into the top four
- Nicolas Pepe has started just five Premier League matches so far this season
- £72million winger has clearly fallen out of favour with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta
- But Pepe showed some good form for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations
- Arsenal legend Ian Wright believe Arteta should give Pepe more opportunities
- But he warned the player he is in the ‘last chance saloon’ and must produce
Arsenal legend Ian Wright has warned Nicolas Pepe he is in the ‘last chance saloon’ with Mikel Arteta but believes the Gunners manager should trust the £72million man more.
Pepe has failed to match the expectations that followed his big money move from Lille in 2019 and has fallen out of favour this season.
The 26-year-old winger has started only five Premier League matches this season with Arteta typically leaving him on the bench in the biggest games.
Nicolas Pepe has struggled for game time at Arsenal after falling out of favour this season
Manager Mikel Arteta has favoured other attacking options over Pepe in recent months
Pepe did find some form playing for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, where he scored goals against Sierra Leone and Algeria before his country was knocked out on penalties by Egypt.
Wright would like to see Pepe get more opportunities but also for the player to make the most of them.
‘Up to this point he’s not used Pepe in any way that makes me think he’s got love for Pepe,’ he told his Wrighty’s House podcast.
‘I think Pepe might be in a last chance saloon, with the amount of games he hasn’t played.
‘I’d like to see something from him. When you watch him in the Africa Cup of Nations, where I think the defender is even harder with those guys, with how athletic, how good and how intelligent they are.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright believes Pepe is in the ‘last chance saloon’ and must impress soon
Pepe performed well for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring two goals
‘You’ve got to do a lot more, and when you watch him, he’s done it Why aren’t we getting that out of him?
‘If that means playing him in a False 9, or playing him in a position where he’s just free and gets on the ball and runs at people.’
With the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in the final days of the transfer window, Arsenal will look to the likes of Pepe to provide inspiration with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah now their only two recognised centre forwards.
Wright believes it’s time to bring Pepe back into the fold more regularly.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now at Barcelona, Pepe and others will have to step up
He added: ‘It seems to me that Mikel has got to take a chance on that. The goals are going to have to come from Emile Smith Rowe, [Bukayo] Saka, hopefully [Gabriel] Martinelli.
‘None of them are proven like Aubameyang was proven.’
Arsenal are out of action this weekend following their early FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest with their next Premier League assignment at Wolves on Thursday.
They are sixth in the table at present but are just two points off the top four and have at least one game in hand on the sides above them.