Michael Owen has said that Nicolas Pepe’s slow start to life in north London is Arsenal’s “only big worry”.
What’s he said?
Despite criticism that the Gunners’ and the manager have received so far, the north London side themselves third in the Premier League, with their only defeat being against Liverpool at Anfield in August.
However, the Ivorian has got off to a sluggish start to Arsenal and admitted that his confidence is low but he is not overly concerned.
Owen, who played for both Liverpool and Manchester United, told Premier League Productions that Pepe’s poor form could become an issue if there are no signs of improvement.
Quoted by Premier League Productions (via football.london), Owen said: “I think that’s the only big worry I think for Arsenal at the moment. Things are going pretty well, in the league they are chugging along, in Europe they’re doing fine.
“But [Pepe] was a massive outlay, you’re expecting or almost wanting a guarantee of performance for that type of money. It hasn’t happened yet but we all saw him in France, he’s a terrific player. It might take him a little bit of time, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt at the minute.”
Give him time
Pundits have hit out at Pepe after he was outshone by the 18-year-old Bukayo Saka during the Gunners’ 1-1 draw against Manchester United. Owen joins a growing list who have expressed concern over the Ivory Coast international.
The 24-year-old needs time to bed into his new environment and surroundings. However, there can be no doubting Pepe’s abilities after such an impressive spell at Lille. The Ligue 1 club’s Sporting Director Luis Campos claimed his constant analysis of the game is a trait he shares in common with Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, per Sky Sports, and that can only be a positive indicator for the future.
Pepe took Ligue 1 by storm last season and scored 37 goals in 79 appearances for Les Dogues, conjuring up 17 assists during two seasons at the club which resulted in his £72m club-record transfer to Arsenal.
While Owen raises some valid points and with the Ivorian still in the infancy of his time at Arsenal, there is plenty of learning that Pepe has to do at the age of 24.
With the attacking quality that is around him at the club, he has the resources available to him to become a world-class winger.