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Why isn’t Pepe playing for Arsenal at the moment?

Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal
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The Ivorian winger has played just seven minutes of Premier League football in the club’s last seven matches.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted the club’s lack of European football has hindered Nicolas Pepe’s game time this season.

Despite ending the 2020/21 campaign on a strong note, Pepe has recently struggled for chances in Arteta’s line-up this term.

The Ivory Coast international’s last league start for the Gunners came in a 2-2 home draw against Crystal Palace on October 18. Since then, he has made just two appearances and seen 12 minutes of action. Therefore, especially as Eddie Nketiah has won some minutes lately, doubts have surfaced over his future.

“It’s with all the players that they are not having a lot of minutes,” said Arteta of Pepe’s situation in a press conference on Friday.

“With the number of games we’re having, there’s not enough room. With Nico’s situation, it’s something similar.

“He needs more opportunities to show what he can do and in the last games, he hasn’t had them. I understand but again I have to try to make the decision based on what I see every day.

“Nico is really willing to help the team. The reality is that in the position that he’s playing, Bukayo [Saka] is there and has been fantastic.”

Pepe will hope to get a chance on Saturday as Arsenal visit Leeds United in the Premier League.