Alan Smith believes Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah both have the opportunity to influence Arsenal’s transfer plans when they face Leeds United this evening.
The Gunners duo both start tonight against the Whites in the Carabao Cup fourth round, with Mikel Arteta naming a much-changed team from the side that beat Aston Villa on Friday evening in the Premier League.
Pepe is making his eighth appearance of the season in all competitions as he looks to cement a regular first-team spot under Arteta, with the Ivory Coast international often criticised for his consistency levels.
However, there is no doubting the 26-year-old winger’s ability when he is on top form, and he will be desperate to show his capabilities against Leeds at the Emirates Stadium.
Nketiah, meanwhile, has less than 12 months remaining on his contract with Arsenal and looks set to be sold either in the January transfer window or next summer, as it stands, but could go some way in changing the Gunners’ mind this evening with a sparkling display against his former club.
Smith, formerly of Arsenal, has said on Sky Sports that Arsenal need to add more depth to their squad in upcoming transfer windows, but thinks there is an opportunity for Pepe and Nketiah to catch Arteta’s eye this evening.
He said: “When you scratch underneath the surface of the first 13 or 14 players at Arsenal the quality isn’t as high as you would ideally want it.
“That is something Arteta will try and get in the next couple of transfer windows but there’s a chance there for the likes of Nketiah and Pepe to catch the manager’s eye and work their way into the starting eleven.”
Smith also spoke about Arsenal not being involved in European competition this season and thinks Arteta has been able to utilise his main strength on the training ground due to their free time in comparison to their Premier League rivals.
The former Gunners man said: “What I’d say about that as well is that Arteta’s strength is on the training ground.
“He has obviously got these free weeks, the space and time any coach would want and you can see him in the post-match and pre-match interviews they’re always frustrated with not having that coaching time but it is a young squad that can be improved upon on the training ground and Arteta is a very good man to do it.
“This season could be a really useful one for rebuilding.”