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Nicolas Pepe has no choice but to respond

Arsenal desperately needs to answer back against Brighton, and Nicolas Pepe should be the guy turned to primarily. He has no choice but to respond.

As Arsenal was kicked around by Manchester City at the Emirates, thanks in near-entirety to David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe didn’t even get the chance to get back out onto the pitch. Which just piles on the questions that have been asked by, about, and surrounding the Ivorian winger in his first year at the Emirates.

I don’t think I could make my opinion any more clear. I am over the moon at Pepe’s successes this year. He’s now become our most efficient goal producer with Aubameyang being held 90 minutes without a goal against City.

For that reason, it’s odd that he was completely left out in such a big match. Unless it’s as I’ve been theorizing—that this wasn’t a criticism of any particular player so much as it was a preemptive rotation.

But whatever the case, it couldn’t have felt good seeing the team falter and shrivel on the pitch, amassing a whopping zero shots on target.

We would know, we had to watch it.

For Pepe, it’s probably even starker since he would undoubtedly feel that it was within his power to do something different. And whatever the logic, it doesn’t feel good to be left out when your teammates are, for lack of a better word, failing.

Especially given how much this season has been hit or miss. He’s been benched before, by other managers, and he’s been overlooked and criticized. So again, even with the assumed logic of preemptive rotation, Pepe will be looking at Brighton as his chance to yet again remind more than just the fans that he is worth it and should be starting without question whenever possible.

I don’t think Pepe would have made that much of a difference against City, if anything. But I also know that he is our most innovative and self-reliant attacker. If ever you need someone who can spark a moment of magic all on his own, he is the guy.

And for that reason, I couldn’t be more excited for what is inevitably going to be a response to being sat.

Next: Arsenal vs Brighton Predicted XI

On the bright side of that logic, I can’t imagine someone I’d rather have in a position to prove something than Nicolas Pepe. Again, there is no one more capable of individual inspiration.

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