Arsenal need more from Willian and Nicolas Pepe, insists Ian Wright

Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Nicolas Pepe and Willian both got on the scoresheet against West Brom (Photo by Andy Rain – Pool/Getty Images)

Arsenal legend Ian Wright believes senior players such as Willian and Nicolas Pepe should be taking more responsibility in the side and too much is expected of the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.

The Gunners’ hopes of silverware ended last Thursday when they crashed out of the Europa League to Villarreal, after a dispiriting 0-0 draw at the Emirates.

Arteta appeared to blame the club’s exit on a late injury to Granit Xhaka in the warm-up, with the Swiss midfielder selected to play at left-back against the Spanish side.

His sudden absence meant Kieran Tierney had to start and the Scot was clearly lacking match fitness.

Arsenal got back to winning ways with a 3-1 win against West Brom on Sunday and Saka was man of the match with a fine display from left-back.

Wright believes too much responsibility has been shifted onto the younger players (Picture: BBC)

Wright believes it was a mistake not to play the England international at full-back against Villarreal, though he believes a bigger problem is the fact that players like Pepe and Willian haven’t contributed enough throughout the season.

‘The thing is we’ve been very fortunate with the fact that the youngsters we’ve put in have been consistent,’ Wright told Premier League Productions.

‘Saka for me should have started at left-back on Thursday instead of Xhaka.

‘You see what he’s capable of doing, you see how listless we were. We needed some thrust from somewhere. I think that was a mistake from the manager’s point of view.

‘You talk about consistency, I think Arteta’s talking about players like Willian and Pepe. Those players we needed more from.

‘Pep was starting to get a bit of form but then for some reason he was in and out of the team. It’s hard to get consistency when you’renot getting consistent game time.

‘From that point of view that’s firmly with the manager. I don’t think there’s been many games I’ve seen when Smith Rowe, Saka or Tierney haven’t played really well.

‘It’s been to a standard you wouldn’t expect because young players can be inconsistent because they’re young players.’

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