Arsenal FC v Vitoria Guimaraes: Group F - UEFA Europa League
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Alan Smith hits out at Arsenal player; claims his 'football intelligence looks short'

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Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith spoke to Stadium Astro about Nicolas Pepe and his terrible performances over the last few weeks.

The Ivorian has come under a ton of criticism recently. He is our record signing and apart from few flashes of brilliance, he hasn’t proved that he is worth the money we spent on him.

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Pepe has five goals and three assists to his name in 23 appearances so far this season. That is a poor return and the fact that a teenager is preferred over him now shows just how little faith Mikel Arteta has in him.

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Many still feel that Pepe will come good if he’s given a regular run of games. Smith, however, isn’t of that opinion.

He said: “I am not so sure (if Pepe will come good). He is in his second season now, it’s not like he is still adjusting, settling into a new country, to a new league.”

“He’s one of those players that can produce a little bit of magic. He can cut inside and whip one into the top left-hand corner, but I know there are occasions when his football intelligence looks short. It’s not as if he had been tearing up trees for long period back in France from where he came.”

Arsenal Insider’s view:

Eight goal involvements in 23 appearances doesn’t look great but it is important to note that he has only started 14 of those games.

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He started every single game in the Europa League and averaged a goal or an assist per 90 minutes. Although the quality of the opposition there is a lot inferior to that in the Premier League, he has shown some form when given a good run of games.

Arteta, however, looks like he has lost patience with him. Recent decisions have shown that he prefers Willian over Pepe even though the Brazilian has looked a lot worse. (Read here)

That is a serious cause for concern for the Ivorian. If he doesn’t do something spectacular in the next few months, Arsenal might look to cash in on him, even though he is probably worth half of what we played for him 18 months ago.

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