How Arsenal can get the best out of Nicolas Pepe
- Has Nicolas Pépé finally found his feet at Arsenal?
The misery-streak comes to an end for Arsenal as they registered their first win in ten games against West Ham on Monday, courtesy of goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe. This was the first time this particular front three was employed, and Freddie Ljungberg will have absolutely zero reasons to drop this attacking line up in the upcoming league games.
In the pursuit of a top-four finish, Arsenal will have to hit top gear if they wish to stand any chance of overtaking the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. This was the first time since 2011 that Arsenal came from a goal down to beat the team 3-1 in an away game, and Ljungberg and co have a tough job of building their season on this win, starting with getting the three points against Manchester City, on Sunday.
The trio of Martinelli, Aubameyang and Pépé took their time to adapt, as the Gunners could not create much in the first 45 minutes but showcased their quality in the second half, as the they hit three past the home side in just under ten minutes. Aubameyang has proved that he can score goals in any system but for the likes of Martinelli and Pépé, it would be a tad difficult because they lack experience, which is why Ljungberg need to play to their strengths.
Pepe finally came big for his side as they recorded a crucial league victory, but how can Arsenal get the better out of the Ivorian winger?
3. Deploy a counter-attacking strategy
Nicolas Pepe is feared for his alarming pace and dribbling, and the best way to play to his strengths is by playing on counters, especially in away games. Of course, Arsène Wenger was known for how good his team were in keeping the ball, however, the current Arsenal squad do not have the personnel to play possession-based football.
At Lille, Pepe bagged 22 goals and 11 assists in a single season in Ligue 1, and the fact that Lille were probably the best counter-attacking team in France tremendously helped the Ivorian's cause because he was able to bomb the huge spaces left behind by opposition fullbacks.
In away games especially against the top six, Ljungberg must replicate the counter-attacking model showcased by the likes of José Mourinho and Nuno Espírito Santo, not only because Pèpè thrives in such a system, but the Gunners have several players who suit to a counter-attacking system.