Arsenal drew 2-2 away at Norwich City this afternoon.
Arsenal caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg has told The Express that he left Nicolas Pepe on the bench today because of what he saw in training.
The Gunners headed to Carrow Road this afternoon to take on Norwich City, and fell behind as Teemu Pukki’s deflected strike put the hosts in front.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang equalised with a twice-taken penalty, but Todd Cantwell’s curling finish had the Canaries back in front before the break.
Aubameyang struck again in the second half to earn Arsenal a point, though they needed strong saves from Bernd Leno to ensure they went back to North London with a point.
Ljungberg was taking charge of his first game following the sacking of Unai Emery on Saturday, and went with a diamond in midfield.
That meant winger Pepe was left on the bench yet again, but even when Ljungberg changed his setup, he still left Pepe on the bench and brought on youngster Bukayo Saka instead.
In the three games since the international break, Pepe has bizarrely played just 45 minutes, with the club’s record-signing sat warming the bench for the most part.
His form maybe hasn’t been ideal, but the way he’s been left out seems strange. Now, Ljungberg has offered some sort of explanation, suggesting that he left Pepe out because of what he saw in training, seemingly suggesting that he simply wasn’t doing enough in the run-up to the game, which is certainly concerning – but Ljungberg just feels it’s a necessary difficult decision on a ‘very good player’.
“Nicolas Pepe is a very good player, but I looked at what we did in training and what I see every day and that is how I judge it,” said Ljungberg.
“There were difficult decisions to be made, for example, I left Reiss Nelson back home in London. For me, it was really hard, he’s the future of this club, a great talent. But I had to leave him out. Those are the decisions you have to do as a manager,” he added.