Lee Dixon has hit out at Nicolas Pepe, telling the forward to ‘play better’ if he wants more playing time.

MG 9597Earlier this week, Nicolas Pepe spoke about his desire for more minutes in an Arsenal shirt, about which you can read more below.

Replying to tweet about an article on Sky Sports, Lee Dixon said;

Nicolas Pepe wants more playing time at Arsenal to rediscover his smile after a disrupted start to the season under Mikel Arteta.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal talks to Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal as he is sub during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium on October 04, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Neil Hall - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal talks to Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal on October 04, 2020. (Photo by Neil Hall – Pool/Getty Images)

If you only looked at appearance figures, it would seem like Nicolas Pepe was playing regularly this season. He’s up to 12 so far, meaning only Eddie Nketiah has featured in more matches.

However, the reality is that half of those appearances come from the bench. Pepe only has one Premier League start, with his other five coming in the Europa League and League Cup. Clearly, Arteta doesn’t see him as a first-choice winger right now.

Speaking during the international break, Pepe admits he’s focusing on trying to get into the lineup more often.

“My goal is to play more. Have a little more playing time,” Pepe told Canal Plus (via Mirror). “A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again.

“[Arteta] wants me to be 100 percent 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.

“It is frustrating for any player to be on the bench. The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role (on the bench).”

Arsenal fans are keen to see Pepe back in the Premier League starting lineup. He has five goals and assists since league-starter Willian last provided a goal contribution, and the Gunners have only scored one goal in their last three domestic matches.

Perhaps more goals and assists with Ivory Coast on international duty could help Pepe make his case.