Mikel Arteta’s dream system unlocks Arsenal’s own Adama Traore as key tactical error is revealed – Bailey Keogh

Nicolas Pepe’s start to the season isn’t what fans expected it to be after an impressive end to the previous campaign.

The Ivorian has failed to register a goal in the Premier League so far this season despite being the highest goal contributor during the 2020/2021 calendar.

Due to his lack of goal contributions in the Premier League it has meant that his place in the side has been taken by youngster Buakyo Saka who has thrived as a right-sided winger.

There is a defining factor in why Pepe hasn’t been performing this season and that is because he hasn’t been able to utilise one of his biggest strengths.

The 26-year-old Is typically known for his tricky dribbling and the ability to beat his opponent when one-on-one.

Nicolas Pepe is lacking successful dribbles compared to his rivals around Europe.
Nicolas Pepe is lacking successful dribbles compared to his rivals around Europe.

However, we have seen a lot less of that this season as when he is in possession of the ball he has constantly seemed isolated and on many occasions he is double pressed which forces him to pass backwards which destroys the attacking momentum.

The space afforded by the opposition team this season is much less than what he is used to with the host of goals in his Arsenal career he is usually seen cutting in on his stronger left-foot before finding the net.

This hasn’t been the case so far this season and is a major factor into why Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are currently occupying the wing positions.

Pepe is a better player when deciding his next move on instinct rather than having to think about what the next step will be.

Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli both struggled during Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Leeds in the Carabao Cup at the Emirates. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Nicolas Pepe struggled during Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Leeds in the Carabao Cup at the Emirates.

The Arsenal attack has been lacking a lot of fluidity this season meaning the build-up play has been slower, which doesn’t suit him.

It is worrying to see how far behind he is in terms of dribbling compared to his rivals in the Premier League, namely Allan Saint-Maximin and Adama Traore.

The Ivorian only has a 40% dribble success rate despite attempting on average five dribbles per 90 minutes.

Traore has a 79% dribble success rate this season, whilst Saint-Maximin has a 64% success rate after averaging 7 dribbles per 90 minutes.

If Pepe was to improve on this statistic then he’d see much more success as he would be able to create chances for himself.

However, with Arteta finally beginning to find a successful attacking formula for this season, the increased fluidity and better patterns could have a major impact for the Ivorian.

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