Arsenal went to Anfield and got brushed aside. The gulf in quality was known prior to the match, and hammered home at full-time. There wasn’t even much going for Mikel Arteta off the bench.
There were options in reserve to come on for the visitors, but nothing that would have turned the tide of the match. Liverpool were a cut above and whoever was brought on would have done little to alter that.
Among them was Nicolas Pepe, who has amassed just 482 minutes of football this season, five of which have come in the past four games. Anybody fighting the case that he still can play a part in the Gunners’ future is slowly running out of witnesses to testify.
He will play a part this season. There is no doubt about that. The fixtures are going to come pouring in thick and fast and the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe will be unable to play every three days, just like the rest of the team.
Arsenal subject of shock Nicolas Pepe loan interest from AC Milan in January transfer window as Serie A side eye attacking reinforcements
When January comes around the fixtures ease up, but there will be no Pepe to help. Jetting off to AFCON with Ivory Coast, who are largely expected to qualify from their group, his services won’t be there to call upon.
Might they be there at all for the rest of the season? As per Calcio Mercato, AC Milan are keeping tabs on his situation with a view to making a loan offer in the winter with an option to buy. Stefano Pioli wants to bolster his forward ranks and someone who can play on either wing like Pepe fits that he’s after.
Whether there are bones to this or not, as much as Arsenal may be keen on getting Pepe out of the door they would never agree to a loan with a purchase option. Not only are they letting £72m worth of player go and earn his keep elsewhere, they’re doing so with the possibility of him coming back in six months and being worth even less.
He may not see any action in January due to AFCON, but Arsenal are only one Saka injury away from needing him back in the starting lineup. While most would gladly see Pepe out of the door, Arsenal will want confirmation of payment in order to sanction such a move – especially mid-season.
Is he going to find a new club or just run down his contract because nobody wants to buy him?
Such is his form and his unsuitability in Arteta’s team, when there is serious interest in him – this particular rumour may or may not be – what terms can they realistically turn down in order to get something back on their investment?