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Is this the reason that Nicolas Pepe is being frozen out of the Arsenal side?

Is this the reason that Nicolas Pepe is being frozen out of the Arsenal side?

AFCON calling

Ah, the Africa Cup of Nations.

The midseason tournament which sees some of the best players in the world depart their club sides for up to a month to fight it out to become champions on a football-mad continent.

This season, it is due to take place in January as normal, leaving the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all without some of their star men.

For the Gunners, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey will all be jetting off, Covid-19 permitting, to represent their countries at the tournament. Could this be playing a role in Mikel Arteta’s selection?

The curious case of Nicolas Pepe

Last season, Nicolas Pepe registered 10 goals and an assist in 29 Premier League appearances, which was enough to see him finish as the joint second-top goalscorer in the side, alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and only behind Alexandre Lacazette.

This season, however, the Ivorian has played just 7 times in the Premier League, of which only five were starts, and has seen just five minutes of action in the last 7 Premier League outings. For a man who remains the club-record signing, it is baffling.

Even in their last three defeats, one of the biggest goal threats has been nowhere to be seen.

To confuse matters further, when Gabriel Martinelli went down injured, it was soon to be out of contract striker Eddie Nketiah that replaced him, rather than the natural winger still committed to the club for a further 2 and a half years.

Quizzed on it after the lackluster defeat to Everton, Arteta revealed:

“He does every day in training what you see him do here. Every single day. That’s why I picked him”

Eddie seems likely to stay in January, if only due to a lack of alternatives in the attacking third.

Knowing that Aubameyang and Partey will both be departing anyway, and with the Africa Cup of Nations around the corner, is Mikel Arteta desperately trying to find solutions to his attacking problems without Pepe, who he is also set to lose for a month in January?

Read more:

Chelsea handed another major injury boost as starlet set to return to action

Martin Odegaard reveals the fatal flaw in Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal


This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 23 41 57
2 Liverpool FC 21 37 45
3 Chelsea FC 23 28 44
4 Manchester United 22 6 38
5 West Ham United 23 10 37
6 Tottenham Hotspur 19 4 36
7 Arsenal FC 20 8 35
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 3 34
9 Brighton & Hove Albion 21 0 29
10 Aston Villa 21 -4 26
11 Leicester City 19 -3 25
12 Southampton FC 22 -8 25
13 Crystal Palace 21 -1 24
14 Brentford FC 23 -12 23
15 Leeds United 21 -16 22
16 Everton FC 20 -11 19
17 Norwich City 22 -32 16
18 Newcastle United 21 -22 15
19 Watford FC 20 -17 14
20 Burnley FC 17 -11 11

Premier League 21/22

Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 16
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 10
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 8
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 8
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 8
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 8
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 8
Raphinha Leeds United 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 8
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 7
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 7
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 7
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 7
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Bowen, Jarrod West Ham United 6
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City 6
Saka, Bukayo Arsenal FC 6
Maddison, James Leicester City 6