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Nicholas Pepe-Emirates Cup Is No Coincidence

Nicholas Pepe

Call me cynical but the breaking news this Saturday, 36 hours before the Emirates Cup, that Nicholas Pepe is to sign for Arsenal strikes me as far from coincidental.

It was only one week ago that Twitter was rife with news that ticket sales for the traditional, pre-season tournament were going poorly with empty seats galore. A week before that, the “We-Care-More-Than-You-Do” lot launched their petition to great fanfare in the media forcing Josh Kroenke, for the first time ever, to publicly defend his family’s ownership of the club. Last Thursday members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust were granted another opportunity, via the annual Q&A, to publicly bash the management about the lack of new signings.

This was the background to David Ornstein, Arsenal’s favorite mouthpiece, to once again scoop his peers in mainstream media.

Arsenal have reached an agreement with Lille to sign Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe for ~€80m, paid by instalments to fit #AFC budget. 5yr deal, agent agreement still needed but set to be closed in next 24/48hrs. Napoli also have agreement with #LOSC but agent rejected proposal.

If that was the plan then it immediately had the desired effect as Ornstein’s tweet triggered an overwhelmingly positive response. Within hours it was by far the most popular trending item on Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not panning the proposed deal. Pepe is/was one of the most sought after wingers in Europe this summer. Unlike many tweeters, bloggers and podcasters, am not going to pretend I knew much about him prior to this. French football is no longer freely available on the internet since 2017. Until then one could see easily games live and recorded. Now if one wants to get some idea of a player, the main source is these dodgy 10 minute videos that are now du jour on YouTube. From what I have seen, he appears to be a talented player, who, if properly coached and bedded-in can succeed in the Premier League.

Furthermore, am on record as being strenuously opposed to the signing of the over-priced and over-hyped Wilfried Zaha, a ball hog with far less end-product than the notorious Alexis Sanchez. I have urged the signing of someone of higher caliber. Pepe may well be the answer.

But the timing of Ornstein’s announcement seems awfully contrived by traditional Arsenal standards. There was a time when the club never said a peep to the BBC man or anybody else, for that matter, until the contract was signed, sealed and delivered.  But in this case, Ornstein himself revealed the deal would take between 24-48 hours to be finalized and agent agreement is still needed. I have been around long enough to learn of deals supposedly in the bag for Arsenal hijacked at the last minute by clubs with deeper pockets (Michael Essien and Juan Mata come to mind). In this case tradition was brushed aside. You have to wonder why.

Predictably Twitter is awash with Arsenal fans who never heard of Pepe until Ornstein’s announcement, but now swear he is the second coming. Mel O’Reilly’s tweet is utterly sarcastic:

I’ve never seen him play & I wouldn’t know Nicolas Pepe if I got in a lift with him but I will be incandescent with rage if we don’t sign him like.

Some are so delighted they are already singing the praises of management:

Raul Sanllehi reminds me of David Dein. The kind of person we were missing for so long. And he has just started at Arsenal.

Announce Pépé and the banter era is forgiven. The 10-2 loss to Bayern, signing Källström to solve an injury crisis, losing Ramsey for free, Jesse Lingard dancing in The Emirates, William Gallas being our number 10, the RvP saga. All of it. Make it happen, please.

But some voices are urging caution:

Emery really needs to get this right. He has got a well balanced midfield and forward options. But the build-up last season was a lot of times slow and predictable. That can be alleviated this season somewhat by the type of players he’s brought – daring, aggressive.

Jumping the gun somewhat here (why the hell not) but do we believe that Emery will play Ceballos, Özil, Pépé, Aubameyang and Lacazette in the same starting 11? Highly unlikely I imagine. Probably a lot of rotation from game to game.

Conclusion

It strikes me for the second year running Unai Emery cannot complain of the support he has received from the Kroenkes and the club to get Arsenal back in the champions league. This time last summer fans and the media were unanimous that the signings of Leno, Sakratis, Torreira,  Guendouzi and Lichsteiner, net £69 million, would make Arsenal stronger and Emery would swiftly overcome the failings of Arsene Wenger. That didn’t work out as easy as planned, did it.

For the upcoming season he will have as reinforcements the already signed Martinelli, having on loan Ceballos, a tricky, skillful Real Madrid and Spanish national team midfielder and the imminent capture of a winger that will smash Arsenal’s previous transfer record. Additionally Raul and Vinai did not rule out the signing of a center back at the Q&A. Fans are over the moon with the announcements and management must be happy with the improved ticket sales starting with the Emirates Cup.

Conditions are perfect for a more successful season than last. The executives are  pulling all the strings at their disposal. Is there any reason why Emery cannot lead this Arsenal squad back to the champions league next year?

 

7 Comments

  1. Traditions don’t matter any more at Arsenal. I every way ever since Sanllehi took over we’ve been sending exactly that message. Whether it be going back on Ramsey’s deal, trying to (unsuccessfully) force Ozil out, badmouthing departing employees, or players who’ve given years of service and put their bodies on the line. Leaking a transfer as a done deal is small fry.

    The signing itself, presuming it goes through, I am happy about. It gives us a goal threat from out wide. Ideally this should allow more space for Laca, Auba and even Ozil and the midfielders to exploit in the box.

    A question mark still hangs over Emery and whether he’ll be able to play to the team’s strengths. Last season, we had a good attack but he messed it up. We were 11th in shots created. Possession stats were down, and defensive stats were down. Only Auba and Laca’s incredible finishing saved us.

    Hopefully having someone to stretch the field horizontally, and adding Ceballos to add some verticality in the centre of the park, will lead to a good attacking style of play. Hopefully no one will make excuses for Emery now. (Himself included) This is his chance to show how good a coach he can be. If he’s not up to the job, it should fall on Edu to take the necessary steps. But for now, we wait. Pre-season hasn’t been great, but it’s been better than last season.

    Reply
    • finsburypJuly 28, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      Strong evidence this week to support what Sven said in his recent interview.

      Huge transfer for an 18 year old even in today’s market. Record breaking transfer for a young wide forward from the French school not called Ousmane Dembélé.

      In spite of the attempts to disparage his interview by “I really like Raul”™ etc clearly this is a different method to the one that saw Aubamayang and Mikitaryean arrive at Dortmund for small sums, or similar over the years at AFC.

      The big money singing of Auba for AFC was a continuation of the recent “catalyst for change”© policy of bigger transfers, punting on Mustafi and Lacazette etc., in my opinion! Except Auba was no punt, his record in his first full season was brilliant and Sven’s record and work at AFC was applauded by the caring crew at the time.

      Sven’s departure truly mark the end of era. Sorry Shotts I can’t help the awful puns…it’s a Brave New World.

      Reply
      • finsburypJuly 28, 2019 at 9:55 pm

        < I'd compare the signing of the young CB to say the signing of Oxlade Chamberlain etc

        The obvious difference with the previous signings is he's a defender and not a flair player/forward.

        It's the rumoured deal for Pepe that follows the recent sequence described above.

        Reply
    • finsburypJuly 28, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Ignoring the shenanigans upstairs I’m always excited by the arrival of fast skilful forwards for my team!

      they’ll have do well to supplant Auba as my current favourite!

      Reply
  2. Thank you Mr. Shotta for a interesting and well researched article and to Mr Shard for a great post taking things also further. Thanks for thinking deeper and creating a small oasis in what seems more and more a dumb world of opinion. ( Im often a major culprit). Cheers and
    COYG!

    Reply
  3. Look out tomorrow for a new podcast by me and the Arseblagger discussing today’s game as well as the rumored signing of Nicholas Pepe.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for keeping up the labor of love on trying to say it as it is. I hope you will allow me contribute something on transfer news especially as it relates to David Ornstein

    Surprised at the attendance figure tweeted by the Arsenal Women handle. I think there is a bit of a flat atmosphere almost like people are not really enthused. I hope the actual response to matches during competitive games will be better. The biggest hindrance to atmosphere and enthusiasm are billy bloggers who try to constantly take a dump on the club

    Reply

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