Finton's Frolic: Could Nicolas Pepe's Slow Start to Life at Arsenal be Down to his One-Footedness?
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
What up, Pimps?
Welcome one and welcome all to the Finton's Frolic right opinion zone. The best place to read an unqualified and self-proclaimed genius, American discuss what's poppin' at Arsenal.
The Gunners will square up to Aston Villa tomorrow and it is sure to be a tricky affair. The former Arsenal shot stopper, Emiliano Martinez, will surely be keen on putting in a top-level performance against his former club after being casted aside for the preferred Bernd Leno. The Argentine has done very well with Villa thus far and looks to be well worth the money outlayed for him. The same can not be said about his former teammate, Nicolas Pepe, however.
Pepe has struggled massively since making his big money move from Lille and it's difficult to pinpoint just one reason why. Maybe because there's multiple. Nevertheless, without stats to back my observance, it seems to me like the Ivorian is really struggling to beat anyone now. When the guy first came in and was the first player to brush past Virgil van Dijk in like 67 years, we all thought he was one of the best dribblers in Europe. The lanky and African Lionel Messi.
Now the record signing struggles to beat even the lowest level of defenders. While he managed a goal and assist against Molde, there was still a blatant lack of a cutting edge in his game. He completed 2 out of 4 possible takeons on Thursday which is decent enough on paper but let's have it right, it's fucking Molde. Pepe should have power washed mold off the pitch with his sumptuous skills but he just didn't, not at all. Instead he was suffocated by the team named after a disgusting fungus. His goal and assist just papered over the cracks in my opinion. He was nothing special until Bukayo Saka came on for WIllian.
I, for one think that Pepe's struggles come from him being so predictable. While there is a hell of a lot to love about the winger, his one footedness is frankly, quite annoying in all honesty. The likes of Arjen Robben-who was comically one-footed- could get away with his right foot being completely useless because he was one of the fastest players to ever play football. Pepe is not nearly as impressive from an athletic standpoint and seems to rely on intelligence and fancy footwork to wriggle out of danger.
The attempts to be fancy or clever almost always end up being futile because defenders know that he is just going to try to get the ball onto his left peg every single time. As a guy who played as a very amateur defender, I can confidently say, if I was ever in as good a shape as capable defenders are, I would much rather face an individual like Pepe rather than Saka.
Saka is far more direct and actually ambidextrous, Pepe seems to completely refuse to use his weaker foot at all. And because of that, defenders know, just watch his left leg, it's not like his right is going to actually do anything.
Of course, it is worth noting that one-footedness is not the only culprit behind the new number 19 failing to impress, but I genuinely believe that if he improves on the weakness his game will improve tremendously.
Anyways, that's it. That's all I have to say about Pepe's one-footedness. It will be interesting to see if he plays against Villa or the world class, Willian will be deployed from the start in his place. Whatever happens, happens so on that note, I'll catch you next time. Until then, Toodloo...!