Nico Pepe: Cut Inside, Shoot!
By Rob Worthington (Senior Writer)
How on earth has Arjen Robben recorded 170 career goals?
No one can challenge the Dutchmen’s talent, but it can’t be denied that he made a career out of doing the same thing over and over again. Cut inside, shoot!
When I watch Nico Pépé, I sometimes feel that he’s a little embarrassed by the fact that’s all he can offer. Thus, he forces himself to take on his opposing full-back on the outside. Tonight? Nothing of the sort.
If Pépé really does feel the embarrassment I’m suspicious of, all he has to do is look at Robben’s success over the years with Bayern. It may be an age-old trick, and a little predictable, but looking to cut inside and bend it into the far corner is certainly effective.
In Norway this evening, it seems Mikel Arteta told Nico Pépé just that. Throughout the game, Pépé was superb. Throughout the 90', all he tried to do was drift in-field and get shots on target. And boy, it was worthwhile.
First attempt, he lifted one just over the bar. Second attempt, from miles out, he crashed it against the bar. Third time? Third time’s a charm. The ball nestled in the top corner. A well-deserved goal for the Ivorian.
Sometimes, it really is that simple. Just do what you’re good at. Taking on a man, moving inside and getting a shot away is Pépé’s specialty. After a miserable Sunday for the Ivorian, he reminded us all of his undoubted talent tonight.
The challenge for Pépé, as we all know, is that he has to perform as he did tonight more consistently. However, what is clear is that the former Lille man is at his best with a smile on his face. Hopefully, some strong Europa League performances can instil confidence in Pépé, and he can return to the Premier League with a bang.