Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has clarified the current form of Bukayo Saka has made it hard for Nicolas Pepe to get playing time at the club.
The Ivory Coast international has made just eight appearances for the Gunners in the Premier League this season, managing just one assist. Saka has featured for the team 17 times in the top-tier, scoring two goals and providing four assists.
With Leeds United coming this weekend, the Spanish tactician was asked about the situation of the Ivorian and went on to comment on why he has not been used much this season.
“With all the players who are not getting a lot of minutes at the moment, obviously with the amount of games we have got, there’s not enough room for all those players,” Arteta said as quoted by the club’s website.
“With [Nicolas Pepe’s] situation it’s something similar. I have highlighted on many occasions it’s [based] on what I see every day. That is with [Pepe] as well. But he needs more opportunities to show what he can do and in the last few games, he hasn’t had them.”
Arteta then went on to comment how Saka’s form has limited Pepe’s chances at the club.
“I understand that [he should play], I have to try to make that decision based on what I see every single day,” the former midfielder continued.
“And to be fair, [Pepe] is really willing and really willing to help the team. The reality is that the position he plays, Bukayo [Saka] has been playing regularly there and he’s been fantastic. So it’s not been easy for him to find that time.”
Whether Pepe’s absence from the Arsenal team might affect his chances in the national team is yet to be known. Ivory Coast will be in Cameroon to battle for the Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to start on January 9.
The Elephants are in Group E alongside defending champions Algeria, Sierra Leone, and Equatorial Guinea.