Nicolas Pepe, on loan at Arsenal, criticized by the boss of Nice after his debut | Soccer
Arsenal loanee Nicolas Pepe made his forgettable debut for Nice on Sunday, with manager Lucien Favre criticizing his new signing’s lack of intensity and saying it was creating a “problem” for the rest of the squad.
The 27-year-old – who cost £72million when he joined Arsenal three years ago – played the full 90 minutes as Nice were beaten 3-0 at home to leave them winless and at the ready. 18th place in the Ligue 1 table after four matches.
Somewhat ironically, Nice were undone by familiar faces from Arsenal fans, with Alexis Sanchez scoring a brace either side of a fine strike from Gunners loanee Nuno Tavares – who was an unleashed force down Pepe’s flank.
Favre was far from happy with his debutant’s display off the ball and feels he has a lot of work to do to get back up to speed after a long playing peripheral role at Arsenal.
Asked about the Ivorian winger, the Nice coach replied: “He has to get back into the swing of things”. He hasn’t played in England for a long time.
“He did his pre-season with Arsenal but didn’t play a game, so he lacks a bit of rhythm and intensity to come back, in pressing and recovering the ball, because that’s what everything everyone has to do, there are no exceptions.
“If one or two players don’t do the job, the whole team has a problem. Everyone has to do it at the same time, defend together to win the ball and then play.
He added: “We have to be ready, we are professionals. Recovering the ball is important in any sport.
Nice have made a number of new additions this summer – including Pepe, Aaron Ramsey and Kasper Schmeichel – but Favre has played down player turnover as the reason for his side’s loss and feels the whole team has lacked intensity and of work pace.
When asked if the transfer window had disrupted the team’s performance, Favre replied: “I’ve heard of it before.” We are tired, that’s obvious. We changed 4-5 players.
But these are excuses, the transfer window too. Of course, there are players who may be in danger of leaving, others will come. It may be disturbing but they are excuses.
‘It’s no use talking about it. It’s what we did on the pitch that I don’t like.
“We didn’t have the energy to get the ball back, to defend. That’s what disappointed me, everyone saw that. We lost the ball cheaply and then had to come back to get it back and we didn’t work hard enough.
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