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Why Unai Emery is responsible for Nicolas Pepe’s sluggish start at Arsenal

first_imgNicolas Pepe has scored just one goal in his opening eight matches for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Whenever a club splashes out on a record buy, expectations are invariably heightened.It was even more so in the case of Nicolas Pepe’s £72m move to Arsenal given the context surrounding his switch from Lille. Following a late-season slump which saw the Gunners collect only seven points from a possible 21 and lose 4-1 to Chelsea in the Europa League final, optimism and morale were at a low ebb.A subdued start to transfer business in the summer did little to quell the murmurings of discontent around the Emirates either with virtually every story revolving around Arsenal making reference to the club’s widely-reported £45m summer budget.AdvertisementAdvertisementArsenal had been expected to be conducting their summer shopping in the bargain basement, but suddenly in August, they laid down a marker by obliterating their transfer record in order to secure the services of one of the most sought-after players in Europe.ADVERTISEMENTIt was a deal as surprising as it was exciting. Nobody expected Champions League-less and penniless (in football terms) Arsenal to have the means and pulling power to make such a splash in the transfer market, yet that’s exactly what Pepe’s arrival did.‘Signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I’m delighted he’s joining,’ Emery said after Pepe had been draped head to toe in Arsenal Adidas. ‘He will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team.’Slow start How Arsenal were set up against Manchester UnitedThe wave of optimism that greeted Pepe’s arrival in north London has gradually subsided in subsequent weeks following a series of ineffective displays. Reaction to Pepe’s latest performance in Monday night’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United, meanwhile, bordered on the hysterical.Given his position, nationality, the fact he joined from Lille and a lack of end product thus far, some Arsenal fans have worked themselves up into believing that Pepe is the second coming of Gervinho, albeit with a better haircut.That seems harsh considering Pepe is still only eight games into his Arsenal career and his one goal is more than the club’s all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry had managed at the same point in his own spell with the Gunners.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityNevertheless, there are legitimate concerns about Pepe’s form and whether Emery is putting suitable building blocks in place to help him reach his potential. Emery is renowned for his rotational policy when it comes to personnel and tactics but at times, that can be to the detriment of his players.Emery has already used four different tactical systems in seven Premier League matches – one more than Lille played in the duration of their 2018-19 league campaign. Whereas all 37 of Pepe’s appearances for his former came on the right-wing – generally in a 4-2-3-1 but occasionally a 4-4-2 – he has been deployed in different positions at Arsenal.AdvertisementPerhaps due to his goal tally last season, Pepe has been used as a central striker in tandem with Aubameyang in a 4-3-1-2 system and although it is a ploy that showed promise on the counter-attack against Liverpool, it didn’t really work against a low-block Aston Villa defence, where space to run into was restricted.Safety-first Emery to blame? Nicolas Pepe has made an underwhelming start to his Arsenal career (Picture: Getty)Emery pinpointed four key attributes from his new recruit but so far only one of those has been in evidence thus far. On his first Arsenal start against Liverpool, Pepe demonstrated that he pace to burn when he skinned Andy Robertson on his way into the box from a lightning-quick counter-attack.In terms of power, Pepe is difficult to stop when he gets his legs pumping but he still looks a bit slight for your average Premier League winger and has been knocked off the ball a touch too easily at times during his opening games in England.As for the end product, Pepe is yet to show the qualities that saw him only outscored by Kylian Mbappe and out-assisted by Teji Savanier in Ligue 1 last season, when he netted 22 times and set up 11 more as Lille finished second to PSG.Although Pepe tops Arsenal’s charts for chances created (11) this season, that total only has him 22nd in the Premier League and has yielded just a solitary assist for Alexandre Lacazette in the 2-2 draw against Spurs in the north London derby.More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalAccording to Understat, Pepe’s expected assists (xA) which gives an indication of the quality of a chance being created is only 1.19 (+0.19 of his actual total) which ranks 38th in the Premier League, behind the likes of Andre Gray, Isaac Hayden and Nathan Ake.In terms of goals, Pepe has had a frustrating time of it. After eight Premier League and Europa League games combined, Pepe has converted only one of his 20 attempts on goal and that was from the penalty spot against Aston Villa after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deferred spot-kick duties.AdvertisementAdvertisementAubameyang has scored 58 per cent of Arsenal’s Premier League goals this season – an impressive or alarming stat depending on your viewpoint – which shows that his teammates, Pepe included, are overly reliant upon him to produce the goods.Tactical tinkering Oliver Young-MylesSunday 6 Oct 2019 7:00 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link5.6kShares Advertisement Advertisement Unai Emery has so far been unable to get the best out of Nicolas Pepe in an Arsenal shirt (Picture: Getty)There is also a growing consensus that Emery is a naturally defensive coach, particularly after Monday night when he named an industrious three-man midfield of Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira against a United team who were there for the taking.Arsenal created only seven chances against United and none of those came from their three starting central midfielders. Pepe is a player who thrives in broken play and with grass to run into but if he’s playing in front of a pedestrian midfield, his opportunities to latch onto passes in behind are drastically reduced.Considering Arsenal’s strength lies in their attack rather than in defence, it seems counter-intuitive that Emery continually adopts a safety-first approach. Aubameyang has been prolific despite a lack of service but without a functioning support network behind him, Pepe has struggled.There have been times where the Ivorian’s composure and shot execution have let him down, but it is on Emery to provide a tactical framework to enable him to showcase his assets rather than inhibit his natural attacking instincts.MORE: The stats that show how reliant Arsenal have become on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Why Unai Emery is responsible for Nicolas Pepe’s sluggish start at Arsenal Commentlast_img read more

Governor Wolf Orders Flags at Half-Staff to Honor Fallen Dallas Police Officers

first_imgGovernor Wolf Orders Flags at Half-Staff to Honor Fallen Dallas Police Officers   SHARE  TWEET Flag Order,  Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all Commonwealth flags in the Capitol Complex and at all commonwealth facilities statewide to fly at half-staff to honor the five police officers who were killed in the line of duty on Thursday, July 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.Flags shall be lowered to half-staff and remain lowered until Tuesday, July 12 at sunset.All Pennsylvanians are invited to participate in this tribute. July 08, 2016center_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Read Governor Wolf’s full statement on recent events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolflast_img read more

Leadership Deficit, a Virus in Liberia

first_imgOn Friday, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) ushered its new leadership into office during a ceremony held at the association’s head office on Broad Street in Monrovia.The keynote speaker, former Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, expressed gratitude to the female lawyers’ leadership for the peaceful manner in which they conducted the affairs of the association. He spoke on the theme, “Leadership Deficit in the Country.’’ The former Works Minister sees AFELL as a leadership that is championing the cause of justice for women and children.Atty. Woods observed that some Liberians who came to the country under the guise of contributing and leaving their ‘lucrative jobs’ abroad are now leaving the country during these challenging periods.“When President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was first elected in 2005,” said Atty. Woods, several Liberians returned home and took up jobs in government with many claiming that they left lucrative jobs abroad to come home and sacrifice. During the early days of the Sirleaf regime when the country was not experiencing difficult financial situations, many of the Liberians came home but are now leaving government because things have gone bad.”“This deficit is a virus that is eating our country,” declared Woods.According to him male dominance in every decision making process in the country has paralysed the visions that bring concrete and lasting developments.He called on the female legal practitioners to be more united than ever if they are to overcome the many challenges facing the Liberian society.Those inducted into office are: Attorneys Vivian Doe-Neal, president; Nadia Sartus-Kamara, vice president; Irene Saie, general secretary; Naomie Gray, chaplain; and Cllr. Dedded J. Wilson, treasurer.Atty. Woods admonished the officers to remain humble, sincere, honest and trustworthy in demonstrating their leadership skills.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more