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Pepe hit with savage criticism in comparison with Arsenal teammate

Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal
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Despite Nicolas Pepe scoring a goal of the season contender, Joe Cole feels the Ivorian is still a long way off Bukayo Saka.

Joe Cole has urged Nicolas Pepe to stop ‘wandering’ during games and to take a leaf out of Bukayo Saka’s book instead.

Pepe has struggled to match expectations since his club record €80 million transfer from Lille in 2019. There have been moments of promise, but he hasn’t always been able to deliver regularly.

The 25-year-old again gave Arsenal fans a taste of what could be by scoring a clear goal of the season contender in the club’s 3-1 win over West Brom on Sunday. He cut inside and smashed the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.

It was Pepe’s 12th goal of the season and doubled Arsenal’s lead after Emile Smith Rowe volleyed in a Saka cross.

Willian sealed the three points for Mikel Arteta’s side late in the match by firing home a free-kick for his first Gunners goal.

But Cole wasn’t sold on Pepe’s performance and pointed out how the energetic Saka shows him exactly what he’s missing.

“He plays in fits and starts Pepe,” said the former Chelsea and England star on BT Sport. “We’ve got a great angle up here and we were watching him, and he was so lackluster.”

Cole added: “Compare him to Saka on the other side, who was full of energy and was vibrant.

“Pepe was wandering. After 30 minutes, we were questioning what he was on the pitch for.

“But he has got the quality, and that’s why you pay £70m for him because he can do things like that. You just need to see it more often.”

Pepe and Saka will return to action on Wednesday for a trip to Chelsea in the Premier League.