Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe was in action for Ivory Coast in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier last night.
The Gunners ace played 79 minutes of the 2-1 victory over Madagascar, which moved the Elephants top of Group K, level on points with the Barea after three games.
And much like his penultimate game for Arsenal, against Molde, he delivered goal contributions but flattered to deceive overall.
In the Europa League group victory, Pepe put in a mixed display, being dispossessed often and showing little end product in the opening 70-odd minutes, before going on bag himself a goal and an assist.
And against Madagascar, the 25-year-old did notch up an assist, but his overall performance wasn’t the best.
Ivorian outlet Life gave him a 5/10 rating and wrote: “The technical weapon of the team was barely in sight.
“He struggled against the Malagasy defenders in addition to the pitch not suitable for his game.
“His rare forays were convincing but not effective in the end. Particularly toothless near the end, he was replaced.”
After a goalless first half in Abidjan, Gervinho broke the deadlock for Ivory Coast in the 48th minute and Sebastian Haller doubled the lead seven minutes later.
Paulin Voavy halved the deficit just before the hour but Patrice Beaumelle’s side held on for victory.
When asked about Pepe’s performance after the Molde game, Mikel Arteta called for consistency and a better final product – though “not just from him”.
The Spaniard, speaking to Football London, added that Pepe “scored a great goal and another assist and he can do more so he’s on the right path”.
While he’s getting goals and assists, you could argue there’s little to complain about, but hopefully he’ll iron out the flaws in his game and return to the player he’s capable of being.
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