Nicolas Pepe left on bench in Arsenal draw at Norwich due to not impressing in training, reveals Freddie Ljungberg as £72million flop’s woes go on
- Arsenal signed Nicholas Pepe for £72million but he has failed to sparkle so far
- The former Lille winger has just one goal in 12 Premier League appearances
- He didn’t do enough to impress new boss Freddie Ljungberg in training this week
- As a result the Ivory Coast star was benched for the 2-2 draw away at Norwich
Arsenal flop Nicholas Pepe was consigned to the bench for Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at Norwich on Sunday after failing to impress interim manager Freddie Ljungberg on the training pitch.
The Gunners had high hopes for Pepe this season after paying Lille £72million for his services, but he has not provided much return on the investment, with just one Premier League goal in 12 appearances.
Supporters had been hoping the pacy winger would maintain his form from last season in Ligue 1 – where he scored 23 goals in a prolific campaign as he fired Lille into the Champions League spots.
Nicholas Pepe was benched against Norwich and has appeared four times as a sub for Arsenal
Interim Gunners boss Freddie Ljungberg left Pepe on the bench for the 2-2 draw at Norwich
But while Pepe has added two goals in the Europa League to his tally, all three of his strikes have been from dead balls – with two free kicks in one game against Vitoria Guimaraes and a penalty against Aston Villa.
And after replacing the sacked Unai Emery as manager on Friday and leading training for the first time, Ljungberg said Pepe didn’t do enough to warrant a place in his first team selection for the Norwich game.
‘[Nicolas] Pepe is a very good player but I try to go off what I see in training and what’s being done everyday and that’s how I judge,’ the interim boss said after the game.
But he didn’t close the door on the 24-year-old, adding that every player in the squad will have a chance to show what they can offer the team.
Pepe did not do enough to impress Ljungberg in training after arriving as interim manager
The Ivorian winger was clinical for Lille, scoring 23 goals last season as they finished second
Now he is finding it tough at Arsenal and has failed to settle despite arriving with a £72m tag
Pepe was an unused substitute for the game at Norwich, with Ljungberg opting to bring on young forwards Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli instead as the Gunners went in search of a late winner.
The 2-2 draw was Arsenal’s eighth game without a win in all competitions as the Swedish boss failed to get off the mark in his debut game.
Arsenal have not won a Premier League game since early October, a 1-0 home win over Bournemouth, and have conceded 21 goals – as many as Brighton – and are the only team in the top half with a negative goal difference.
It gives Ljungberg plenty to think about ahead of a home game against the Seagulls on Thursday night before an away trip to West Ham next week.