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Arsenal need a winger, in case you haven’t heard, but one winger might actually do it, and Nicolas Pepe is the man for the job.
Awhile back, when Arsenal were first linked to Nicolas Pepe, I posed the question whether Pepe, the new winger sensation out of Lille, was more like Gervinho or more like Eden Hazard. Naturally, we can’t know until he makes his push into a bigger competition, but he’s pushing all he can already from Lille.
Part of what made Eden Hazard so special during his time at Lille was that he continued to get better. His goal production never slowed. When he had a breakout year, he had a bigger breakout the following year.
Gervinho, meanwhile, found his zone and stayed there. After his breakout year, he hovered in the same production zone for the rest of his time, and continues to, barring his time at the Emirates, where he was pretty terrible.
Pepe knocked home 13 last year and added four assists. That’s very similar to Gervinho’s and Hazard’s breakout years. Only Hazard’s proved to not be his breakout year, as he improved from there.
This year, Pepe is doing even better. he’s already scored five and assisted on three in just eight appearances, as he is taking over twice as many shots per game and creating twice as many chances per game.
In short, he is getting better. And if he stays on this torrid pace and plays as many minutes as last year, well, then he’ll end up with something like 20 goals and 12 assists, which would be more than a bit of an improvement over last year.