Former Arsenal star Ray Parlour says Nicolas Pepe must improve his consistency in order to stop “giving Mikel Arteta an easy option to leave him out”.
Pepe arrived at Arsenal in a club record deal last summer worth more than £70m. However, his first season did not live up to expectations.
The Ivory Coast forward managed just eight goals from 42 appearances. He completed 90 minutes in just 11 Premier League games last season, and hasn’t done so in any this term.
Pepe has started just one game in the league this season, but did get to complete a full game in their most recent Europa League fixture – a 4-1 win over Molde. He scored and got an assist in the second half of that game.
However, he has now been told by Parlour that he must start delivering for full games in order to retain a regular place in the Arsenal lineup.
“I think it was a game of two halves for Pepe (against Molde),” Parlour told talkSPORT (via the Metro). “I thought first half he was pretty poor.
“He picked up second half but you can’t do that (drift) when you are in big games . You have to be effective for the 90 minutes. That’s what Mikel Arteta is saying.
“You’ve got to play your part throughout the game. I think Saka does that. If you look at the way he plays he’s always involved in the good parts of Arsenal’s game going forwards and defensively.
“Pepe’s just got to get that bit more consistency during the game because you can go missing.
“You can’t have missing players because against the big sides you have to have everyone on that pitch doing their work and being involved in a good team performance, that’s what he’s probably trying to say there against Pepe.
“First half yesterday it was like his brother was playing. Second half he’s turned up and got his goal.”
Pepe told to be like Son
Parlour continued by admitting that the amount of money Arsenal paid for Pepe has put a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
However, he maintains that he must start showing more consistency – pointing to Tottenham forward Son Heung-min as an example of someone who always turns up.
“The price tag doesn’t help, it was a lot of money,” Parlour added. “There’s going to be more pressure when the fee is a little bit higher.
“I just want to see him do it five or six games in a row. He’s got to have such a good game that Mikel Arteta can’t leave him out.
“At the moment Pepe is giving Mikel Arteta an easy option to leave him out. He’s too inconsistent he doesn’t do it in every game.
“The big players, going back to Spurs, Son, he does it every game. He makes a difference every single game, that’s what Pepe doesn’t do.”