Mikel Arteta admits that a willing Nicolas Pepe hasn’t had the chances to show what he can do lately, but insists it’s not easy to give him them.
It’s become pretty clear in recent games that Nicolas Pepe is far from being one of the first names on the teamsheet. Whilst he was in and out of the team in the early parts of the season, now he’s almost exclusively out of it.
In the Premier League, Pepe has made two appearances since October 19th, for a combined 12 minutes on the pitch. He made the squad without coming off the bench in seven matches during that period.
Discussing the winger’s situation, Mikel Arteta admitted it’s difficult to find minutes for everyone in Arsenal’s squad without the extra games that European football provides.
“Obviously, with the amount of games we have got, there’s not enough room for all those players,” Arteta said. “With Nico’s situation, it’s something similar.
“I’ve highlighted on many occasions it’s (based) on what I see every day. That’s with Nico as well.
“But he needs more opportunities to show what he can do and in the last few games, he hasn’t had them.
“And to be fair, Nico is really willing, and really willing to help the team.
“The reality is that the position he plays, Bukayo has been playing regularly there and he’s been fantastic. So it’s not been easy for him to find that time.”
It’s certainly difficult to see a way into the team right now. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are two of Arsenal’s form players, and that’s before we even mention Emile Smith Rowe.
The three of them are comfortable enough rotating with each other to fill the two wide roles in the front three pretty much every game, especially with Eddie Nketiah mopping up some minutes as well lately.
There’s no urgent need for Pepe to play, so he has to win his spot himself. He should get a chance next week against Sunderland, at least.