Welcome to FPL – Nicolas Pepe

Despite the usual shenanigans concerning a lack of funds to spend on players, Arsenal’s fans’ hoarse cries for quality additions to the team seem to have been answered, at least in principle, as the Gunners have forked out a club-record 72 million pounds on Ivory Coast winger, Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year old is the newest addition to the burgeoning quota of frontline attackers that the Gunners have among their arson. His arrival is a shot in the arm for Emery’s men, who already have magnificent options on the charge.

Arsenal’s additional signing means they could start with a front 3 of Aubameyang, Lacazette and new winger Pepe – an attack set to scare even the very best of defences. Add in the creative flair of Özil and the on-loan Dani Ceballos, and Arsenal can certainly catch up to current best attacks in the Premier League, Manchester City and Liverpool. 

Player Profile

Pepe stands at an optimal height of 6’1 and combines his height and physical stature with great levels of acceleration – these all in tandem, helped Pepe to dominate the right wing for Lille in Ligue 1. 

Coming in from the right wing gives Pepe the right amount of time and room to cut the ball onto his preferred left foot.

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The man from Cote D’Ivoire had a breakthrough campaign scoring 22 goals studded with 11 assists, almost single handedly dragging Lille from a bottom half finishing team, catapulting them to a team that matters again, catapulting them to 2nd place behind champions PSG.

His 3.1 shots/game and 2.3 shots on target suggest an amazing conversion rate for a winger, stats which placed him only second behind teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe in all stats departments concerning goalscoring.

Not just one with an eye for goal, Pepe also proves to be one with an eye for a killer pass with 1.8 key passes despite only 0.3 through balls a game, showing he weighs his options very well.

His wing play is destined to keep him in good toll in a 4-3-3 system, which will ring bells of ecstasy in the ears of his manager Unai Emery, who prefers the 4231/433 hybrid formation (source: http://outsideoftheboot.com/2015/07/23/tactical-philosophy-unai-emery/).

His quick and incisive interplay, as well as his eye for goals, bear very well for Arsenal.

The huge sum heaped on the player will certainly keep him under the intense scrutiny of the Arsenal faithful, and also by eagle-eyed FPL managers!

FPL: Frontrunner Or Fringe Prospect?

Pepe’s arrival in the Premier League and videos of his exploits with Lille sent FPL owners into a frenzy regarding his FPL pricing.

FPL recently announced Pepe to be priced at £9.5m.

In all honesty, that is a price that may not seem too enticing to many FPL owners early on in the season. A lot were hoping for a sub £9.0m price, but the powers that be over at Official FPL headquarters did not want to make it easy for us. 

If we consider that he’s part of a wealth of good midfield options rather than listed as a forward, as well as the fact that both tried and trusted Aubameyang and Lacazette are part of the same attack, it would make sense to choose either Auba or Laca for now given that they’ve got the experience. 

Their tough start to the Premier League is also cited as a negative reason for choosing Pepe, with tough visits to St.James’ Park, and Liverpool at Anfield, both of which haven’t been happy hunting grounds for the men from the capital.

Combine that with the home derby fixture against Spurs, FPL folk may be tempted to look elsewhere.

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As for the individual, no doubt remains about his quality and his performances for Lille, but people are bound to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach with the man from Mante-La-Jolie, given the other more proven FPL assets in his price bracket like Kevin de Bruyne for example, and the fact that both Lacazette and Aubameyang have already proven themselves quality assets in the Premier League.

However, provided Pepe continues from where he ended last season, and given the clear chemistry that has been quickly attained between himself, and Lacazette and Aubameyang, I don’t imagine it will be too long before we see Pepe become a popular asset in our teams. 

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