Date: 23rd January 2021 at 10:00am
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There seems to be something interesting going on at Arsenal regarding flops Willian and Nicolas Pepe.

Neither player has covered themselves in glory this season with both having been consigned to bit-part roles across the last five Premier League games.

It does proving baffling how two incredibly talented players can just flop all of a sudden and get benched for more youthful stars.

Can Arsenal beat Southampton on Saturday?

Yes, we will steamroll them

Yes, we will steamroll them

No, the Saints have too much for us

No, the Saints have too much for us

Willian enjoyed quite a sensational end to his Chelsea career, scoring 11 goals and assisting a further nine as he helped them to a top-four finish and the FA Cup final. Meanwhile, whilst the former Lille man was inconsistent in his debut season in north London, he still combined for 18 goal contributions.

However, there has been a small but interesting development over the course of the last few league outings that may have slipped the grasp of the more casual Arsenal fan.

Whilst Willian was brought off the bench in the games Mikel Arteta’s men are cruising in, Pepe was subbed on midway through the second half in the tense 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

It may well highlight what the Spanish coach thinks of each player, and what sort of impact they can have on the team and on different games.

Willian hasn’t had much of an impact in any of the games following his assists on the opening day of the season. As a matter of fact, he’s struggled to even have many attempts on target in the top-flight. Meanwhile, Pepe has done sensationally well in the minimal starts he has been given in the Europa League, scoring three goals and assisting three.

I, personally, think it paints a clear picture that Arteta thinks the Ivorian possesses an x-factor which opposing defences struggle to deal with in the form of his dribbling. Meanwhile, his Brazilian teammate has shown nothing in attack to suggest he could make a difference across all attacking qualities.

Arteta’s use of the two aces, who were told they should be ’embarrassed’, in recent weeks is certainly interesting. And with Arsenal chasing a Champions League spot, there will be more crucial fixtures in the near-future that will make clearer his thoughts of the men.