Arsenal interim manager Freddie Ljungberg has explained that Nicolas Pepe did not feature against Norwich City on Sunday because of his showings in training.
Gunners supporters were surprised to see the club-record signing left out of the starting lineup against the Canaries, but even more perplexed that he wasn’t called upon as Arsenal searched for a winner.
Ljungberg might have introduced him with the scoreline at 2-2, but the Swede instead turned to youngster Bukayo Saka on 78 minutes, and then Gabriel Martinelli in the dying embers.
Speaking afterwards, Ljungberg explained his decision.
He said (Mirror): “Pepe is a very good player. But I looked at what we did in training and what I see every day and that is how I judge it.”
It is only the second Premier League game of the season where he’s had zero involvement.
Pepe would no doubt have been disappointed not to get on, as his search for his first goal from open play for the club continues.
Arsenal fans react
Arsenal fans expressed their concern online after the game, with some speculating there might be a deeper issue.
It’s about their daily attitude and work ethic in training! No free lunches! 👏👏👏👏
— London IS RED❣️ (@Shell_DonG) 1 December 2019
Christ if Mustafi chambers & xhaka are the best in training we’ve got serious problems.
— Invinciblemac (@invinciblemac) 1 December 2019
It’s Emery wearing a mask
— john edwards (@jjce1) 1 December 2019
He’s right. That’s the overriding argument against supporters (including me, every week) criticizing team selection and pretending to know better. Doesn’t change the fact that hia defensive team selection was weird
— Alon Pinkas (@AlonPinkas) 1 December 2019
I think it was a fair way to address it. It wasn’t an attack on him. Just honesty from the coach. Pepe now knows if he’s not applying himself in training then he will miss out and hopefully it helps his work ethic. Presuming this is the issue.
— Cole J (@AcousticJafar) 2 December 2019
😳😳no Freddie don’t tread that road. Emery tried that with Ozil
— #PepeIsHere (@Wisebizna) 2 December 2019
I have heard this before ..yah from Emery 😣
— h🍥 (@the1assertive1) 1 December 2019
But how they perform on the pitch differs so how is it justifiable
— Ronald (@ZEURES) 1 December 2019
Sounds like the son of emery talking
— eoooagraphix (@TobiAdeleye6) 1 December 2019
I just hope he won’t allow this turn into problem cos majority of the fans won’t accept benching Pepe, expecially if we’re not getting results as expected.
— Koledoye Oluwatobi C (@TobiKoledoye) 2 December 2019
I just hope pepe is mentally strong enough to make a comeback
— ☢️ (@BlazingAFC) 1 December 2019