Arsenal latest news: Mikel Arteta facing 'problem' over £140k-p/w star

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Journalist Paul Brown thinks that Nicolas Pepe's lack of game-time this season is a "problem" for Arsenal.

The Gunners' record signing has slipped down the pecking order under Mikel Arteta and has been an unused substitute in the last five league games.

How has Pepe performed this season?

When the Ivorian ended last term with five goals in three league matches, including braces against both Crystal Palace and Brighton, it was set up for the wide man to enjoy his best year in English football.

Only Alexandre Lacazette ended up scoring more league goals (13) than Pepe's 10, which was a decent return considering he had spells out of the team.

But Pepe simply hasn't kicked on. He started five of their first eight league fixtures, but chipped in with just one assist and since the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, he's hardly had a look in.

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In fact, the 26-year-old's only outing since the Palace game was a late substitute appearance at Leicester last month, with Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe all ahead of him in the pecking order.

Pepe, who earns £140k per-week, could get a rare chance in the League Cup quarter-final with Sunderland later this month, but he's likely to miss the whole of January providing he makes the Ivory Coast squad for the African Cup of Nations.

Therefore, it's tough to see where Pepe's next minutes are coming from, and Brown has described it as a problematic situation for Arteta.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

What did Brown say about Pepe?

He told GIVEMESPORT: "He's not getting enough playing time, but he doesn't seem like someone who's full of confidence, and it's a problem for Arsenal."

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Could Pepe start against Southampton on Saturday?

Following two straight Premier League defeats, Arteta could opt for a change of personnel when the Saints visit north London this weekend.

Smith Rowe didn't feature against Everton on Monday, whilst the likes of Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are worryingly out of form, with just one goal between them across the last six matches.

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Therefore, Arteta could decide to give Pepe, whose grumpy reaction to Eddie Nketiah coming on ahead of him at Goodison Park was captured on camera, a rare start, but the fact he's been a substitute for the last month would suggest that he's unlikely to get the nod.

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