Arsenal attacker needs time, and critics are ridiculous.
The fanfare for Nicolas Pepe when Arsenal signed him this summer was typically over the top.
Yet Arsenal fans should not be blamed for celebrating the record signing of a player for £72 million, when the media had erroneously reported their maximum budget was £40 million.
This was a major coup for the Gunners, with The Express reporting Manchester United and Liverpool both looked at a deal for the winger.
So far, Pepe has had a slow start at Arsenal, which has at least served to calm expectations somewhat about his potential impact on the side in the short term.
Gunners fans are understandably a little anxious, while rival supporters have been piling in on social media to mock the Ivory Coast international.
The taunts are likely to backfire
There are a few general points to note about Pepe’s early struggles.
He is adjusting to a new league, unfamiliar opponents, new teammates, a new culture and a new manager. With time, he will get used to all that.
More specifically a problem is the fact he has not rested all summer, due to his performances with Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations. And then there is the mental toll that the transfer saga exerted on him.
Pepe’s record for Lille was similar to Eden Hazard, who was a huge hit in the Premier League.
Thierry Henry did not score for Arsenal in his opening seven games, so Pepe is in good company with his slow start. Henry now sits proudly as the club’s all-time record goalscorer.
The 24-year-old has the quality to come good, and is surrounded by top class attackers.
Writing him off so soon is premature, and it is likely to backfire.