Arsenal signed forward Nicolas Pepe from Lille for £72 million. The forward is expected to be a big hit at the Emirates Stadium following his move to London. Pepe burst onto the football scene last season with an incredible 22 goals and 11 assists as Lille finished second in Ligue 1.
Pepe spent just two seasons at Lille and in both, the forward bagged double-digit goals for the French club. Pepe was a highly sought-after player and linked to several clubs including Liverpool, Napoli, and Manchester United. The Gunners beat all of their rivals to the forward and now hope he can duplicate his form from last term.
Nicolas Pepe – How will he adapt to the Premier League?
Pepe should be able to adapt to the Premier League, but it may take time. Teammate Alexandre Lacazette scored 14 Premier League goals in his first season at the Emirates after trading in Ligue 1 for the Premier League.
The big difference between Lacazette and Pepe was the former had played more European football than the latter by the time he joined Arsenal. Pepe has never played in European competition. He will benefit from playing next to the likes of Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Mesut Ozil.
Last season, Pepe bagged 22 goals. His expected goals total was 21.23. Pepe tallied 11 assists which was 0.62 more than his expected assists mark.
Pepe’s two seasons at Lille saw him bag more than his xG and xA totals. He should be able to get near his expected totals once more now with even better attacking players around him.
Nicolas Pepe – Efficient goal scoring
Twenty-one of Pepe’s 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season came within the 18-yard box. He was incredibly efficient inside the penalty area although Pepe’s shots from distance were not as accurate.
— Stuart MacFarlane (@Stuart_PhotoAFC) August 1, 2019
How did Pepe’s numbers compare to the rest of the Gunners in 2018-19?
The forward averaged 1.8 key passes per game, 3.1 shots, and 2.7 dribbles, according to WhoScored.com. Aubameyang scored 22 goals as well, be it, in a much more difficult league. Aubameyang also led Arsenal in shots per game with 2.6.
Ozil, so long the creative spark in Arsenal’s team, averaged 1.9 key passes which led the Gunners. Alex Iwobi and Lacazette led the way in terms of dribbles at the Emirates with 1.3.
Pepe’s addition could make the Gunners better in all attacking departments but the big issue is defence. Manager Unai Emery cannot expect Pepe to track back and defend with regularity. Arsenal already have a weak defence and the likes of Ozil, Aubameyag, Lacazette, and Pepe are not known for the defensive work rates.
Will Nicolas Pepe improve Arsenal and make them a top-four contender once more? He is one of the most exciting transfers of the summer. With only a few days to go in the transfer window, it looks like Pepe will be the biggest offensive move by any of the Premier League’s 20 teams.
That doesn’t mean he will succeed. Pepe will need some time to bed-in to the squad, but with Lacazette and Aubameyang around him, the Gunners have one of the best starting attacks. The problem is, they need to improve their defence and the bench depth is lack.
Fantasy Premier League managers will love Arsenal’s front three. It may take a week or two, but once they start firing, look out.