Arsenal had a disappointing January transfer window as they failed to pursue any of their suitable targets while parting ways with several first-team players.
The prospect of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaving was always on the cards, but it came as a surprise yesterday that the Gunners decided to terminate his deal.
Despite the high-profile exit, the club did not recruit another striker. This has left them short up front with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah being the only specialist options.
Both of them have struggled for form and consistency this term. While Lacazette has excelled with his work rate and high pressing, the Frenchman has been fluffing his lines in front of goal.
Nketiah has barely got a run in the Premier League this season, and he was heavily linked with an exit before last night’s transfer deadline. He now has the chance for possible redemption.
Like Lacazette, Nketiah has entered the final five months of their contracts. It could be a busy summer ahead for the Gunners with an expected rebuild in the centre-forward department.
That is not a priority for the club over the next four months. Champions League qualification remains a realistic aim at the moment, but manager Mikel Arteta can ill-afford a poor start after the break.
The performance against Burnley was pretty dismal up front with the limited goalscoring threat, and this should be a worry for the Gunners in the run-in. This is where Nicolas Pepe could be a solution.
Pepe has seen his game time significantly reduced by the emergence of Bukayo Saka on the right-wing while Gabriel Martinelli has pretty much made the position his own on the opposite flank.
This left the Ivorian as a regular on the bench before his African Cup of Nations campaign. Pepe was in fine form at the tournament with two goals and an assist from four appearances.
The onus will be on carrying the momentum to the league, and Arteta could be tempted to play him up front which he has done for a number of games for Ivory Coast and former club Lille.
The £27m-rated star does not provide the tireless work rate or defensive contributions as Lacazette, but his quality dribbling and better mobility could provide a different outlook to the attack.
He has not netted in nine league games, but his end of season form last term was excellent (five goals in May). Pepe is a confidence player and Arteta needs to play him regularly to get the best out of him.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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