‘Arsenal need more from Pepe with Aubameyang out’ – £72m man challenged by Nicholas
The Gunners have seen their talismanic striker ruled out for three games as he serves a ban, with others being called upon to step up in his absence
Arsenal “need more from Nicolas Pepe” with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang set to serve a three-match ban, says former Gunners star Charlie Nicholas.
Mikel Arteta is set to be without his most prolific frontman for Premier League outings against Sheffield United and Chelsea, as well as an FA Cup tie at Bournemouth.
That is a result of club captain Aubameyang picking up a red card in a 1-1 derby draw with London rivals Crystal Palace.
Arsenal had appealed that dismissal, but have seen a suspension upheld by the Football Association.
With a prolific presence ruled out of their plans, the Gunners need others to step up in his absence.
Record signing Pepe has struggled for form since making a £72 million ($94m) move to Emirates Stadium, but will now get an opportunity to prove his worth.
Nicholas has called on the Ivorian winger to start delivering on the faith shown in him, with the ex-striker telling Sky Sports: “Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is out and quite rightly, so, there is no debate about that, but Arsenal can adjust.
“They need more from Nicolas Pepe, but Alexandre Lacazette can turn it around for them and Mikel Arteta can ask him to be in the penalty box more.
“It was only a draw at Crystal Palace, but they should have had the game won in the first 45 minutes.
“Arsenal are only seven points above the drop zone, and I do not see that materialising but they are closer to that than they are to Chelsea.”
There does appear to be little chance of Arsenal being dragged into a relegation battle, despite their standing in 10th spot.
They are, however, 11 points adrift of the Premier League’s top four and are in danger of seeing their domestic campaign become a write-off.
A change has already been made in the dugout, with Unai Emery paying the price for ongoing inconsistency, and Arteta has been charged with the task of overseeing a rebuilding job.
He has collected just one league win so far, over old adversaries Manchester United, but is considered to have offered cause for optimism over the early weeks of his reign and has the opportunity to further bolster his ranks during the January transfer window.