Arsenal may have dropped massive points against Brighton, but Nicolas Pepe continues to remind everyone what he’s here to do, and that he’s doing it.
Against Manchester City, Arsenal‘s attack might as well not have been out there. They didn’t muster a single shot on target and at the end of the day, they didn’t really have a single significant threat either.
Despite the result, Brighton was different. The Gunners mounted some serious attacking threats, all of which ended up knocked away. Mostly through blocks, but Matt Ryan made some really solid saves and the rebounds weren’t there to pillage.
Then there was Nicolas Pepe.
Arsenal lost, but Nicolas Pepe played his part towards the opposite
While Lacazette and Aubameyang were left frustrated, and Bukayo Saka‘s deliveries kept getting shepherded out of danger, Pepe was always working. For a while there, he was working on finding that key pass, or shaking that last defender.
It wasn’t coming off. But he kept trying.
Finally, when it became clear that the team really needed something to lift their frustration, Pepe did what he does best, and reminded us why we brought him here in the first place—he inspired a change all on his own.
With a simple cutback and a curled effort, he gave fans a goal worth standing up for (I know I did). It felt like there was an actual belief in the side and it was all thanks to the record signing. While Bukayo Saka gets credit for the assist, this was all Pepe. He created every bit of space, from the dribbling to the shot. It was all him.
And yet again I’ll tell you that that is exactly what he is here to do and why he has been so successful this year. His quest in joining the Gunners—his perpetual quest—is to inspire and find goal production when nothing else is working. Aubameyang and Lacazette don’t do that. They require service, combination play—they require someone else.
Pepe doesn’t, Pepe requires no one else to do his magic, and that’s what he found against Brighton and what he has found many other times this year. Yes, he’s better with others, just like everyone else, but when the moment needs an individual and not a pair, or a trio, it’s Pepe or bust.
The result sucked, but it’s always nice to be reminded that the individual is still there. And also, he probably shouldn’t have been taken off.