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Has Nicolas Pepe suffered a harsh start to his Arsenal career?

01:50 BST 03/10/2019
Nicolas Pepe Arsenal 2019
The former Lille winger is yet to score a goal from open play ....

One of the biggest signings in the Premier League, Arsenal’s €80 million man Nicolas Pepe has not had the best of starts in England.

The Ivory Coast international has not scored a single goal from open play in Arsenal colours in seven appearances including four starts across all competitions. His only goal arrived from the spot in their 3-2 win over Aston Villa.

Pepe has provided two assists – to Alexandre Lacazette in the North London derby and to Bukayo Saka against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

This does not compare well to his numbers for Lille last season when he scored 22 goals and created 11 more in 38 appearances. Such impressive figures saw Lille, who finished 17th in Ligue 1 in 2017-18 season, rise to the second spot last season. Such performances only hyped his transfer to a top-six English club.

The 24-year-old is now part of one of the fiercest attacking tridents in England that also comprises Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette. It’s therefore unlikely that he will replicate his numbers from last season, given the goals will be shared among three top-quality players.

But it’s also clear that Pepe will need some time before he establishes himself among the upper echelons of forwards in the Premier League.

However, there are several positive signs for the Ivory Coast international that he can build on during the early phases of his Arsenal career.

No Arsenal player has provided more key-passes per 90 minutes (1.8) or created more chances (3) this season than Pepe. He is also second in the list of successful dribbles per 90 minutes (3.7) in the Premier League. Only Aaron Wan-Bissaka (4.6) has more.

The winger has bettered his dribbling rate from last season (2.7), showing he is confident and not afraid to take defenders on.

Numbers aside, Pepe was one of the best players for Arsenal against two big teams in Liverpool and Tottenham. He knocked on the door several times but lacked the finish to register himself on the score-sheet.

The Ivory Coast international could have hoped for a better start to his Arsenal career in terms of prolificacy in front of goal. He could well turn his form around by performing in the UEFA Europa League where Arsenal are set to take on Standard Liege.

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