Jesse Lingard has more goals from open play than Nicolas Pepe in 2019/20

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Manchester United's Jesse Lingard had become something of a meme this season.

The midfielder had gone on a terrible run of form without a goal or assist since January, but that all changed on Thursday night, albeit during the 2-1 defeat to FC Astana.

Wearing the captain's armband for the very first time, Lingard found the bottom corner with an arrowed shot from outside the penalty area to put United 1-0 up.

A strike from Dmitriy Shomko and a Di'Shon Bernard own goal eventually saw Astana run away victors, but it was still a watershed moment in a torrid year for Lingard.

Although the jokes about his goal involvements won't truly end until he contributes in the Premier League, there is hope now that the floodgates might have opened.

Slow start for Pepe

The same, however, can't be said for Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe.

Barring a dramatic 15 minutes against Vitoria where he scored two free-kicks, the Gunners' record signing has flattered to deceive and is still waiting for his first goal from open play.

It goes to show that scoring 22 goals in Ligue 1, many of which were penalties, doesn't guarantee success in England football and while rubbing shoulders with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Vitoria Guimaraes v Arsenal FC: Group F - UEFA Europa League

Pepe vs Lingard

As a result, the jibes at Pepe are beginning to accumulate with each game he goes without scoring and it's starting to remind us of the treatment that Lingard has been receiving.

So, it's bizarrely fitting that the two were being compared on Twitter last night when fans amusingly pointed out that Lingard now has more goals from open play than Pepe this season. Ouch.

You can take a look at some of the best tweets here.

GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

Ok, so, in seriousness, it has been a disappointing start for both Lingard and Pepe.

Say what you like about statistics, but Lingard simply should be contributing more in the final third to justify his place in and around the United starting XI.

He's now 26 and unless we start to see his form from 2017-18 again, it looks for all intents and purposes that he would be better suited to a team like Everton or West Ham United.

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As for Pepe, the situation is most certainly different.

The Ivorian must be given time to adapt to Premier League football and he happens to have arrived at Arsenal during arguably the most tumultuous epoch of their recent history.

He must do more, don't me wrong, but we could start to see the best of Pepe if Unai Emery leaves the club and a new sense of positivity returns to the Emirates.

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