Nicolas Pepe to get Freddie Ljungberg pep talk in bid to kick start his Arsenal career after Ivorian left on the bench for Swede’s dugout debut at Norwich
- Freddie Ljungberg prefers his wingers to be hardworking and on the move
- The Swede’s latest comments suggest Nicolas Pepe must show more in training
- The Ivorian was left on the bench for the 2-2 draw at Carrow Road on Sunday
- Pepe arrived for a club-record fee of £72m in the summer from Lille
Nicolas Pepe could do worse than study videos of Freddie Ljungberg as he bids to kick start his Arsenal career and certainly get in the Swede’s side while he is in charge.
Interim manager Ljungberg likes his wingers to be hardworking and on the move, testing opposing defenders with their runs from out to in and vice versa.
It helps if they are adaptable too, something Ljungberg enjoyed while working with Arsenal’s youth sides whose players were young enough for him to mould.
Nicolas Pepe will get a pep talk from Freddie Ljungberg in a bid to get his Arsenal career going
Such qualities were among Ljungberg’s, a member of Arsenal’s 2004 Invincible squad, when he was in his playing pomp.
And their importance would no doubt feature in Ljungberg’s pep talks with the Ivory Coast winger, Arsenal’s £72m club record summer signing.
The latest evidence that Pepe, 24, has more work to do came in Ljungberg’s dugout debut for Arsenal at Norwich on Sunday.
When Arsenal were chasing a winner it was youngsters Bukayo Saka and then Gabriel Martinelli who Ljungberg turned to. Pepe was left kicking his heels on the bench.
Ljungberg said: ‘Pepe is a very good player but I looked at what we did in training and what I see every day and that is how I judge it.’
There have been flashes of Pepe’s ability since his much-heralded arrival from Lille, not least his stunning cameo off the bench in the Europa League against Vitoria Guimares when his two late free-kicks turned defeat into victory.
Ljungberg left Ivorian Pepe on the bench in his first game in charge as interim manager
But his three goals are made up of those two strikes and a penalty while one of his three assists was also from a free-kick. Arsenal would have expected more than just a set-piece specialist for their big-money outlay.
It is, of course, still early days for Pepe who, understandably, doesn’t speak much English yet and, as a result, is mainly on talking terms with fellow French speakers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi.
Ljungberg said: ‘Nico is someone who is a very, very good player but sometimes when you come from a different league it takes time to adapt. Off the pitch and on the pitch. But Nico is someone I plan on talking to.
Pepe arrived in the summer from Lille for a club-record £72m but has yet to get going
‘We are going to have a little chat about things, how he feels because he is an important football player, what I expect and how I want to play.
‘I don’t think his confidence is suffering. I just think it’s a new country and a new way of playing.’
It is still early days for Ljungberg too. He leads Arsenal for the first time at the Emirates against Brighton tonight.
Ljungberg moved into the manager’s office on Tuesday which was vacated by Unai Emery last Friday but he is reluctant to look too far ahead, refusing to get involved in discussions about Arsenal’s January transfer window plans.
Arsenal are also set to recall Eddie Nketiah from his loan spell at Leeds due to a lack of action
Arsenal are, though, poised to recall Eddie Nketiah from his loan spell at Leeds having been angered by his lack of action at Elland Road.
They had already voiced their displeasure to the Championship side earlier this season but since seen the situation fail to improve, even before the abdominal injury that has sidelined him for the last month.
Nketiah has scored five times for Leeds despite just two of his 13 appearances being starts. Bristol City will revive their interest having missed out in the summer when he joined Leeds.
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