Arsenal attacker Nicolas Pepe has today discussed his ‘negative’ start to life with the club, as well as the recent sacking of Unai Emery.
Following months of rampant speculation, the future of Ivorian attacker Pepe was finally decided back in August.
In something of a bolt from the blue, despite widespread reports of financial limitations, the 24-year-old made the move to Arsenal, for a club-record £72 million fee.
Pepe’s time in north London, though, has since proven largely underwhelming.
While he has showcased flashes of his unquestionable talent in bursts, particularly in a match-winning cameo off the bench versus Vitoria SC back in October, the former Lille man has often looked off the pace of the English game, with his heavy touch in particular having seen Pepe come in for widespread criticism.
NICOLAS PEPE HAS DONE IT AGAIN! 🔥
He rips a free-kick into the top corner in added time to snatch all three points!
Sensational strike! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/HLZ6NVZjaU
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 24, 2019
‘Expected more of myself’
As such, despite the hefty fee splashed out on his signature, Pepe has managed starts in just 8 of Arsenal’s 15 Premier League outings this season.
The Gunners’ last 2 outings, meanwhile, versus Norwich and Brighton, saw the pacy attacker on the bench from the off in both, under the watch of interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.
This comes after Unai Emery was relieved of his duties this day last week, a decision which Pepe has labelled as ‘painful’:
‘It was painful because he is a coach who gave me the chance to come to Arsenal. We mustn’t forget that. For me, it was something painful,’ the Arsenal man explained during an interview with RMC Sport.
Pepe also opened up on his struggles under the bright lights of the Premier League thus far, assuring that he understands the criticism to have been aimed in his direction, having ‘expected a bit more’ of himself:
‘I would say that my start has been a bit negative. Based on my own expectations of myself, I expected a bit more. I expect more and it is up to me to work hard and make the difference in each match.’
‘It is normal for people to criticise me as much as they are doing because I am not making the difference in each match. I understand them. It is certainly up to me to reverse this situation through hard work.’
‘There are lots of aspects that I need to improve. Score more quickly, take the opportunities to score that I’ve been missing. It’s like that, that’s football. I also need to improve on the physical aspect because coming from France to England, there is this box-to-box aspect that you have to take into account.’
Quotes via Goal