Rio Ferdinand slams Nicolas Pepe and explains his Arsenal struggles


Rio Ferdinand has explained why Nicolas Pepe is struggling at Arsenal (Pictures: YouTube / Getty)

Rio Ferdinand has slammed Nicolas Pepe over his ‘ridiculously silly’ sending off during Arsenal’s draw with Leeds United and offered a theory into why he is struggling at the Premier League club.

Arsenal signed Ivory Coast international Pepe from French outfit Lille in the summer of 2019 for a club-record fee of £72million.

The 25-year-old has endured a mixed spell at the Emirates to date, however, and is still trying to cement a place in Mikel Arteta’s first team.

His hopes of establishing himself at Arsenal were dealt a blow on Sunday when he was sent off for violent conduct after headbutting Leeds United star Ezgjan Alioski.

Former Manchester United and England defender Ferdinand says Pepe ‘let down’ his team-mates and the club, and has suggested the player is struggling due to the pressure of his transfer fee.

He told the FIVE YouTube channel: ‘All you Arsenal fans who are always there and are quick to shout and laugh and smile and celebrate.

‘Listen, it’s good, that’s what football is about. Your emotions can go crazy, I’ve been there and done it. “Ole’s at the wheel”, that kind of stuff.

‘But you guys are struggling again, you can’t get over the line again.

‘Nicolas Pepe let you down, I don’t understand it. You’re a player who said before the international break that he wants to get back into the team, that he needs his chance and he’s not happy.

‘You get given your opportunity and you do something so ridiculously stupid and get sent off. It doesn’t make sense. You let your team-mates down and yourself down.

‘I want to see Pepe do well. I saw him at Lille, beautiful footballer with skills. He needs to do it at Arsenal.

‘The big fee brings pressure and he’s not dealing with it right now.’

Arsenal’s goalless draw at Leeds means they remain just 11th in the Premier League, seven points behind joint-leaders Tottenham and Liverpool.

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The Gunners have won less than half of their league matches this season, scoring just nine goals in nine fixtures.

Ferdinand added: ‘They’re not firing. They can’t get Aubameyang going, they can’t get him scoring after he signed the new deal.

‘He hasn’t set the world alight at all. He was on fire before that.

‘They haven’t got that fluidity which we’ve seen before with Arteta’s team. Things aren’t coming off for them, they need to get it right quick.

Arsenal record signing Pepe was sent off for violent conduct (Picture: Getty)

‘I saw [Rob] Holding when the whistle went, delighted and fist-pumping.

‘I can understand that but I’m sure they will be looking for more because they were very fortunate to come away with a point because Leeds opened them up on numerous occasions.

‘They couldn’t believe their luck. When Leeds came off that pitch, they were trudging off thinking “how the hell have we not won that game”.’

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