Mesut Ozil has gone but Arteta told he needs to solve these two players problems at Arsenal
Mikel Arteta may have rid Arsenal of a Mesut Ozil-shaped distraction but Willian and Nicolas Pepe are presenting the club with similar problems, says Alan Smith.
After eight years with the club, and alot of criticism, Arsenal managed to get rid of Ozil in this transfer window when he finally agreed to leave the club and make the move to Fenerbahce.
And now that he is gone, the hope is that Arsenal can now realign their focus and start bringing the best out of those who do have a part to play in their long-term future, but Arteta knows that he needs to fix his Willian and Pepe problems
Smith has told Stadium Astro of a Brazilian forward who was considered to be quite a coup when being snapped up from Chelsea in the summer of 2020: “Being 32 isn’t the deciding factor [for Willian] – look at Thiago Silva at Chelsea at 36, he’s one of their best players.
“It’s not about age, he’s fit enough, it’s not that he can’t run as he still has that little burst of acceleration. It all comes down to attitude.
“If the approach isn’t right and he hasn’t got that hunger, then you aren’t going to get a performance out of him. This is something for Arteta. Can he work with him on the training ground?”
Smith added: “At Chelsea he was a goal threat week in, week out and we are not seeing that.
“This is what Arteta felt he was investing in when he brought him into the club. At the moment it is blowing up in his face, which is the last thing he needed.
“He’s worked hard to get Ozil out of the club, but he will turn to Willian and Pepe now to get more out of these players.”
Smith said of Pepe: “He’s in his second season now, it’s not like he is still adjusting to a new country and a new league.
“He’s one of those players that can produce a bit of magic but on other occasions his football intelligence looks short.
“It’s not as if he had been tearing up trees for a long period back in France. You can throw the size of the transfer fee at him, that’s not his fault and nothing to do with him, but the fact remains that he’s a big signing and they spent a lot of money on him so they will hope he can come good.
“If they were to sell him now, they are going to make a huge loss. That’s another problem.”