Neither player made any impact upon the game, and as senior squad members Crouch said they have to do more if they want to wrest their starting places back from Mikel Arteta’s impressive young guns.
‘They were disappointing,’ Crouch said of Pepe and Willian on BT Sport after the match.
Peter Crouch (left) said Willian (right) and Nicolas Pepe were ‘disappointing’ for Arsenal again
The Gunners, last year’s FA Cup winners, crashed out after losing 1-0 to Southampton
‘I think they are very good players [but] at this moment in time they’re suffering a lack of confidence, their ego has been dented because young players have come in in their place.
‘I know what that’s like if you’re an experienced professional and kids play ahead of you. You’re going to be angry and there’s two ways you can react – you can throw your toys out of the pram or you can knuckle down, work hard and win your place back.
‘But I don’t think they’ve done enough to warrant their place in the starting XI.’
Pepe (centre) and Willian have been replaced in the Arsenal first-team by younger rivals
Both players have come under severe scrutiny since they joined Arsenal. Pepe is the club’s record signing at £72million, while 32-year-old Willian joined for free in the summer on a two-year deal earning a staggering £220,000 a week.
That they were starting in an Arsenal side that Arteta had clearly rotated for this FA Cup tie spoke volumes about each player’s standing, and Crouch said they should have been eager to prove themselves to the manager.
‘There’s been an upturn in fortunes for Arsenal recently but most of the players involved in that weren’t involved today,’ he said.
Crouch said neither Willian nor Pepe could complain if they are dropped for Arsenal’s next tie
‘You can’t be relying on kids, you’ve got Willian, Pepe, top players on the pitch there. You’d expect them to come here today hungry and showing the manager they don’t want kids playing in front of them, but that didn’t happen.
‘They can’t be knocking down the manager’s door when they’re dropped on Tuesday.’
Arsenal face Southampton once again in the Premier League in three days’ time.