NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This time last year Arsenal fans were blaming Unai Emery’s handling of Nicolas Pepe for his early struggles at Arsenal after his £72 million arrival from Lille.

The Ivorian hasn’t had the best start to life in London, netting just six league goals since joining last summer, and during the early stages of his career at the Emirates, fans thought it was all Emery’s fault.

To be fair, Emery wasn’t doing the best of jobs, hence why he was sacked just a week after these comments, but in the 12 months that have followed, Pepe has shown that Emery wasn’t to blame.

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

He’s not kicked on since Mikel Arteta took charge at the club, scoring just once this season in the Premier League, while his international form shows that his issues may lie deeper than whoever the Arsenal manager is.

Pepe hasn’t scored or assisted in 13 months for his country despite playing against low-quality opposition in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Emery may not have done a perfect job with Pepe, but it seems as though the winger wasn’t blameless in all of this.

Your Club’s Recently SOLD Player Currently FLOPPING

youtube
749317
Your Club’s Recently SOLD Player Currently FLOPPING
/static/uploads/2020/11/05acab1ec5d43bec7c8482881556f43b.jpg
USMdFbBL04E
center

We can forgive Arsenal supporters for blaming Emery, after all, nobody ever wants to admit that their club-record signing is underperforming, but that seems to be the sad reality for Pepe.

It’s a massive coincidence that Pepe’s lowest point as an Arsenal player comes exactly a year after fans were calling out Emery for not getting the best out of him, but it does give us a chance to reflect on what has been a putrid 18 months for the winger.

Pepe has underperformed for both Arteta and Emery and on the international scene, so it seems as though the issue isn’t with his coaching, it’s with his own game.

Whether that’s a crisis in confidence or a general lack of ability is up for discussion, but regardless of what the issue is, something needs to be done about it sooner rather than later.

Alex Morton/Getty Images

In other news, Report: Three-time Champions League winner rejects new contract amid Leeds interest