Roy Keane has told Monday Night Football (broadcast on Sky Sports; 30/9; 22:32) that he has been incredibly disappointed with what he has seen of Nicolas Pepe since he came to Arsenal in the summer.
Pepe has taken time to get going following his summer move to the Emirates. His only Premier League goal came from the penalty spot in the 3-2 win against Aston Villa.
The 24-year-old has also only provided one assist. And he endured a difficult night at Old Trafford as Arsenal drew 1-1 with Manchester United.
Whoscored.com shows that he only completed one successful dribble and provided no key passes. And Keane suggested that Pepe has, so far, been an extremely underwhelming signing who was completely overshadowed by Bukayo Saka in the draw.
“Disappointed with him really since he’s come to the club. Not great body language,” he told Monday Night Football. “We make excuses for players a lot, it takes time to settle into a club. But you see this young kid tonight, Pepe compared to him, for the money they paid, needs to do a lot more.
“But his work-rate, his lack of quality, end product, his body language. He didn’t seem up for the fight tonight.”
Pepe has not done enough since arriving at the Emirates. But he is in very good company when it comes to making a slow start at Arsenal after joining for a substantial fee.
Comparisons with Thierry Henry may not help the Ivory Coast international right now. But it should not be forgotten that Henry did not score in his first eight games for the Gunners.
Pepe arrived as a much more established star than Henry did, so he is arguably under more pressure. But it does show that the best can recover from underwhelming starts. And Pepe’s transfer fee certainly suggests that Arsenal expect the forward to prove that he is one of the best while he is in North London.