Pundit warns of Mesut Ozil-like situation on horizon for Arsenal attacker

Matthew Briggs
Nketiah Pepe TEAMtalk

Martin Keown has warned Nicolas Pepe not to force Mikel Arteta down the same route as he has done with the frozen out Mesut Ozil.

Pepe was one of 10 changes made by Arteta on Thursday as Arsenal defeated Dundalk 3-0 in the Europa League.

The Ivory Coast winger scored and looked impressive in a rare start, as an Arsenal second string proved too strong for their Irish visitors.

But his form this season has been below par and Arteta admitted afterwards that he is looking for more from the 25-year-old.

With the Arsenal boss demanding more “consistency” and an improvement in the winger’s “starting positions”, former Arsenal defender Keown can hear alarm bells ringing.

Keown believes there are signs that Pepe could be following the downward spiral of Ozil, who has not kicked a ball for the club this season.

The talented German has been omitted from the Premier League and Europa League squads and resigned to kicking his heels on the sidelines until at least January.

Arteta said his believes he has “failed” the 32-year-old, and Keown does not want the same to happen to Pepe.

After Pepe’s goal, Keown said on BT Sport: “These are the moments from Pepe that we were expecting when he first arrived. We haven’t seen enough from this player, and it is, how can you get the best?

“We’ve all talked about Ozil not being around and the manager saying he failed the player. What about Pepe now? We’re moving onto the next generation. How do you get the best from him, and is he getting the best from himself?”

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Arteta got team selection right

Mikel Arteta

The former defender also believes Arteta got his team selection just right against Dundalk.

Keown told BT Sport: “I think they were the right calls. If you look at the top players, the internationals, they’ve already played 14 o 15 games this season. The problem with the guys who don’t play is they’re not quite fit enough, so they need minutes on the pitch, but that would’ve been a good night for him.

“The youngsters coming through, they’re just young kids – Nketiah, Willock, Nelson as well, good performances from all of them.”

While, Arteta gave his fringe players encouragement of more game time.

“We gave a chance to a lot of players who haven’t played many minutes this season and it is something really positive because they showed they are well-prepared, they are at it, and they are ready when we need them,” said the Spaniard.

“They are always in the frame to play. It is not if we lose or win, it is what they bring to the team. How they train, what they are showing. Results at the end are consequences of many things, but individually how they do things is what determines whether they have the opportunity to play or not.”