loanee Nicolas Pepe had a debut to forget for Nice on Sunday, with manager Lucien Favre criticising his new signing’s lack of intensity and claiming it created a ‘problem’ for the rest of the team.
The 27-year-old – who cost £72million when he joined Arsenal three years ago – played the full 90 minutes as Nice were beaten 3-0 at home to leave them winless and in 18th place in the Ligue 1 table after four matches.
Somewhat ironically, Nice were undone by some familiar faces to Arsenal fans, with netting a brace either side of a fine strike from Gunners loanee – who was a rampaging force down Pepe’s flank.
Favre was far from pleased with his debutant’s display off the ball and feels he has a lot of work to do to get back up to speed after a long time only playing a peripheral role at Arsenal.
Asked about the Ivory Coast winger, the Nice boss replied: ‘He’s got to get back into the swing of things. He hasn’t played for a long time in England.
‘He did his pre-season with Arsenal but didn’t play a match, so he lacks a bit of rhythm and intensity tracking back, in the pressing and recovering the ball, because that’s what everyone has to do, there are no exceptions.
‘If one or two players don’t do the job, the whole team has a problem. Everyone has to do it at the same time, defend together to get the ball back and then play.’
He added: ‘We have to be ready, we are professionals. Winning the ball back is important in any sport.’
Nice have made a number of new additions this summer – including Pepe, Aaron Ramsey and Kasper Schmeichel – but Favre played down the turnover of players as a reason behind his side’s defeat and feels the whole team lacked intensity and work rate.
Asked if the transfer window disrupted the team’s performance, Favre replied: ‘I’ve heard about that before. We’re tired, that’s obvious. We changed 4-5 players.
‘But these are excuses, the transfer window too. Of course, there are players who are perhaps likely to leave, others will come. It can be disturbing but these are excuses.
‘There’s no point in talking about it. It’s what we did on the pitch that I don’t like.
‘We didn’t have the energy to get the ball back, to defend. That’s what was disappointing for me, everyone saw that. We lost the ball cheaply, then we had to come back to get it and we didn’t work hard enough.’
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