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Arsenal’s Pepe vs ex-target Zaha: Who’s had the better start to 2019/20?

Arsenal shelled out £72 million to sign Nicolas Pepe this summer (BBC Sport) in a transfer that still hasn’t sunk in for some.

The Gunners obliterated their previous transfer record of £56 million for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (BBC Sport) to get the Ivorian in.

Interestingly the north Londoners moved for the winger after facing extreme difficulty trying to sign Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.

(Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Eagles refused to entertain Arsenal’s interest, despite it being the player’s dream move (Mirror), and stood firm over their prized asset.

It’s been a fairly low-key start to the season by the Ivory Coast international teammates, but who has looked better so far?

Using statistics collated by the Premier League, Pepe leads Zaha in terms of actual goal involvements. The Arsenal man has one goal and two assists, while Palace’s ace has registered just one assist so far.

It would seem that Pepe is currently the busier player of the two in the attacking areas, having had 21 shots (seven off target) to Zaha’s 14 (four off target).

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Pepe has created more big chances than Zaha too (three, one), and has put in far more crosses (27, eight).

Pepe has also played more through balls (five, zero).

Zaha appears to have been more industrious than Pepe though, and trumps Arsenal’s marquee signing in terms of blocks (two, zero), tackles (14, eight) and clearances (two, zero).

In terms of pass completion, there is hardly anything in it, with Zaha on 78.92% and Pepe on 78.11.

Both players have made eight appearances, although Zaha has had just shy of 100 minutes more of actual pitch time than Pepe.

TBR’s view

There really is little to separate the two players so far, but perhaps Pepe just about shades it. That said, both have left a lot to be desired.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Arsenal fans will be glad the man they ended up signing isn’t faring worse than Zaha, who is obviously a lot more experienced in the Premier League.

Pepe has been OK so far, but will be expected to step up after the international break and leave Zaha trailing in his wake.

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