Mikel Arteta will be under no illusions as to the challenges that lie ahead of him following Arsenal’s start to the new campaign.
The Gunners have lost four and drawn one of their opening nine games of the Premier League season.
Defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and even high-flying Leicester were perhaps to be expected, but the home thrashing by Aston Villa was a real low point.
Since then, a goalless draw with Leeds at Elland Road has only further highlighted the north Londoners’ lack of creativity.
In fact, at the time of writing they haven’t scored a league goal from open play since October 4.
Inevitably, that means the spotlight has fallen on what should, at least on paper, be a glittering attack.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has really struggled since signing a new contract, while Willian has made very little impact since signing from Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer.
However, one man who has come under particularly heavy fire is Nicolas Pepe. The 25-year-old is the club’s record signing, brought in for a staggering £72 million in 2019.
Arteta was clearly furious with Pepe for his headbutt against Leeds, an outburst which saw him sent off and which means he’s suspended for the fixture against Wolves.
And while he redeemed himself with a fine goal against Molde in the Europa League, the Daily Star report that a decision has already been made to sell him.
It’s claimed that the club are anxious to avoid a repeat of the situation with Mesut Ozil, the playmaker still on the books but exiled from Arteta’s squad.
As for Pepe, he’s scored just five league goals since arriving at the Emirates and that’s led to his transfer fee becoming a “bone of contention” among the hierarchy.
This doesn’t mean an immediate exit for the former Lille winger, but Arsenal would listen to offers if they can find a suitor.
It’s a remarkable fall for a player who was supposed to transform their attack.