The Arsenal squad are reportedly ‘split’ over Unai Emery’s treatment of Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil according to the Daily Telegraph as things get out of hand.
Well all know about the Granit Xhaka issue and the Mesut Ozil issue, but did you know there is also a Nicolas Pepe issue?
Nah, me neither and it all seems a bit odd.
The Telegraph claim that, “The Spaniard’s decision-making and muddled instructions have left a number of players confused and splits have begun to appear over the handling of Mesut Ozil, who has been frozen out, and summer signing Nicolas Pepe.
“Ozil has made just one Premier League appearance this season and been omitted from Emery’s past six squads, while Pepe has started the past eight Premier League games, despite having scored only once – from the penalty spot – since signing from Lille for £72million in the summer.”
They then go on to quote an unnamed source from the club who told them last week, before the Palace game, “You’ve got to wonder who is making the decisions. Has the coach been told not to play Ozil, or does he have a problem with the player?
“Probably a bit of both, but it is damaging the team because Arsenal are not creating a lot of chances and Ozil is clearly good enough to play in some games.
“You also have to wonder why Pepe is starting every game. He was an expensive signing for the club, so does Emery have to start him or does he want to?
“It may be that he is feeling pressure to do what the board wants, but he has to be strong and make his own decisions. It is creating a strange atmosphere within the squad, because nobody is really sure what is going on.”
I don’t know if this is true, but given the climate at Arsenal at present you can’t rule it out and no doubt a lot of the more mischievous journalists will be aware of that.
Mostly, however, I think if you pay £72m for a player, you play him. How else is he going to adapt?