Arsenal hero Thierry Henry’s message to Nicolas Pepe last year will be ringing true in the Ivorian winger’s ears after he missed another golden chance to prove himself against Southampton on Saturday.
The Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup at St Mary’s on Saturday after a poor performance.
Mikel Arteta named a slightly rotated side from the team that beat Newcastle last week, with Pepe receiving his 14th start of the season.
The winger has been out of form this season and put in a disappointing showing on the south coast, doing little to convince Arteta that he deserves regular minutes in the league.
The forward had the chance to prove he belongs in Arteta’s plans instead of Willian, who has also been disappointing this season.
But instead, he faces another spell on the sidelines.
Pepe’s lacklustre performances have seen him lose the faith of large sections of the Arsenal fanbase, and he was heavily criticised after the game against Southampton.
But during a poor stretch of form last year, Gunners hero Henry told him exactly how to deal with life under the microscope at the Emirates.
“When you arrive like that, you’re always going to be talked about, and people are always going to target you,” Henry said last June.
“He needs to make sure he doesn’t listen to that and go out and perform.
“People need to forget about the price tag. He didn’t ask to be bought for that amount of money himself.”
Peter Crouch also spoke of his disappointment in both Pepe and Willian, and expressed he isn’t surprised to see youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka get minutes ahead of them.
He said: “You’ve got Willian, Pepe, top players on the pitch you’d expect to do the job and players really that haven’t been in the starting XI with a point to prove, so you’d expect them to come here today hungry and showing the manager they don’t want kids to be playing in front of them.
“But I have to say that didn’t happen and they can’t be knocking on the manager’s door when they’re dropped here again on Tuesday.”