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Nicolas Pepe: Arsenal forward unhappy with lack of playing time

Nicolas Pepe has admitted he is unhappy with his lack of playing time under Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

The 25-year-old, Arsenal’s £72m record signing, has impressed in the cup competitions this season but has started only one match in the Premier League.

“My goal is to play more. To have a little more playing time,” Pepe told French channel Canal Plus.

“A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again.

“He (Arteta) wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match. Afterwards, I see during training that I will be a substitute the following weekend.

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“But the coach speaks to me, he also has assistants who are there for that. But it is frustrating for any player to be on the bench.

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  • How is Arteta’s style impacting Aubameyang?

“A super-sub role? The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.”

Pepe has scored 11 goals in 54 appearances since joining Arsenal from Lille in 2019.

How is Mikel Arteta’s style impacting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s role has changed at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta arrived, but what impact is it having on the forward’s potency?

Aubameyang has scored just two Premier League goals this season, and failed to register a shot on target in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa on Sunday evening. In fact, he’s registered just 10 shots on target in eight games this season.

The 32-year-old has been moved more to the left-wing under Arteta, and asked to do more defensive work in an Arsenal which has shown signs of becoming more solid. But for Aubameyang, that has meant a drop in goals and shots per game.

Sky Sports’ Gerard Brand:

“There’s no denying that Aubameyang is used in a different way under Arteta. In fairness to Arteta, he came in, put his foot down and said: ‘This is how I want my forward players playing… you may be scoring a lot of goals… but it isn’t winning us more games!’

“I imagine that threw Aubameyang back a bit, and then we essentially had a year-long contract saga. Even Arteta admitted he doubted whether Aubameyang would sign the contract.

“If you think of it from Aubameyang’s point of view – expectation has gone up with a £350k-a-week contract, but under Arteta he’s playing in a system and being asked to do things which mean he doesn’t score as many goals. It’s sort of a catch-22. He’s probably thinking how do I live up to the contract price tag in a system where I can’t score as many?

“Before Arteta he was scoring three in four, since Arteta it’s one in two. I don’t think there’s necessarily a problem with a striker not scoring as much, so long as he helps the team in ways that he wasn’t before.

“Whether he’s tired or whatever it might be, Aubameyang did not look very interested on Sunday evening, and Arteta alluded to a spirit in the team, which he does actually every week. He won’t have been too pleased with him.”

Saka: Kane helped me settle in England squad

Arsenal wing-back Bukayo Saka is grateful to England captain Harry Kane for helping him settle in the national team and hopes to repay the faith shown in him by manager Gareth Southgate.

“All the boys have been so good with me from the first minute I came in,” Saka said in his first England news conference.

“Harry Kane put his arm around me, he spoke to me and asked me how I was. For him to do that, it helped me settle in much quicker and made me feel comfortable to be myself around everyone.

“That helps me not just off the pitch but also on the pitch too, because I feel like I can be myself, express myself and play with the confidence that I play with back at my club.”

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