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‘Does Pepe deserve another chance? Probably not’ – Arsenal should drop £72m man, says Nicholas

The former Gunners forward believes the Ivorian winger should be replaced by Gabriel Martinelli for a Europa League last-32 showdown with Olympiacos

Nicholas Pepe should be dropped by Arsenal for the second leg of their Europa League last-32 encounter with Olympiacos, with Charlie Nicholas suggesting the £72 million ($93m) winger is out of chances.

The Ivorian has tested the patience of some in north London since completing a club-record transfer in 2019.

Having arrived with a big reputation, on the back of a stunning 2018-19 campaign at Lille, Pepe was considered to be quite a coup for the Gunners and an addition to give them ever-greater threat in the final third.

The 24-year-old has contributed six goals and eight assists to the collective cause across all competitions.

More was expected of him, though, and Mikel Arteta has alternative options when it comes to wide attacking roles, with Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli proving to be the more promising signing made in the last summer transfer window.

Nicholas believes he should be rotated back in for a continental clash on Thursday, but is not convinced that Arsenal will include such a move in their tactical tinkering.

The former Gunners forward told Sky Sports: “I do not think this is a certain win [for Arsenal].

“Mikel Arteta will sit and read into the fact that they let in two against Everton. Bernd Leno gets Arsenal out of a lot of holes but he did slip up for the second goal.

“Joe Willock and Alexandre Lacazette will come in I think. You have to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in for his goals.

“Will Nicolas Pepe get another run? Probably. Does he deserve it? Probably not. I would probably look at Gabriel Martinelli.

“The game against Manchester City has been postponed as they are in the Carabao Cup final, which means Arsenal can go at it and get into the last 16.

“You can still see the mess at the back, but Arteta will change things again. Sokratis Papastathopoulos may come in, while Hector Bellerin may drop out.

“You have to play Bukayo Saka at the back. This side has got its attacking side back and got its mojo back in that respect.”

Arsenal edged past Everton 3-2 in their last Premier League outing, keeping them in the hunt for a top-four finish, but Europa League success may still offer their best route back into the Champions League for 2020-21.

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