Kevin Campbell claims reason ‘everything started to change’ for Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe
Kevin Campbell has told the Highbury Squad podcast how Nicolas Pepe turned a corner with his performances for Arsenal.
The former Gunners striker believes Pepe begun to put in extra effort into training and looks even more dangerous because of it. The forward ended the season on a high, with five goals in his final three Premier League appearances.
Campbell believes that all too often Pepe had struggled to be ‘that guy’ for Arsenal in the top-flight. Instead, the 25-year-old would only turn it on for head coach Mikel Arteta as a star of the Europa League.
Pepe offered six goals and four assists as Arsenal reached the Europa League semi-finals this season. He would end the Premier League campaign with just one assist and offered as many goals in his final three games as he had in his previous 26.
“Until he got it in his head that I am going to do the extra on the training pitch. Once he got that in his head, everything started to change, and things started to click for him,” Campbell said.
“He started to score more goals and look more dangerous. He could be that guy in the Europa [League], but he wasn’t that guy in the Premier League.
“Then all of a sudden, he puts extra work in, he gets luckier, starts getting smarter, he starts understanding the game a lot better and now when you look at it, we didn’t want the season to finish.”
TBR’s view: Pepe starting to star at Arsenal
Campbell is absolutely right to note a vast improvement in Pepe’s performances for Arsenal. Arteta will now hope the 25-cap Ivory Coast international does not regress over the summer and can continue his fine form next season.
The £72million (BBC) former Lille winger scored with a rocket against West Bromwich Albion to showcase his ability to cut onto his favoured left-boot from the right flank. Pepe scored another stunner against Crystal Palace and came up at the death to score the settler.
Pepe again left Arteta with few questions against Brighton & Hove Albion on the final day. But the Spaniard had elected to drop the Ivorian for the big test of facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
So, clearly, there is still a little bit more Pepe needs to show Arteta to cement his place at Arsenal. But seemingly flipping a switch to his attitude in training has clearly had a very positive effect.
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