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Emery wanted Zaha instead of Pepe

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Amid the growing uncertainty surrounding Arsenal at the moment, there is at least some semblance of consensus on one key issue.

You will struggle to find a supporter who wouldn’t agree with the fact that it was the right time for Unai Emery to be relieved of his duties when he was, and with the Gunners continuing to regress under interim manager Freddie Ljungberg, it looks as if the decision to seek a new permanent appointment couldn’t have come too soon.

But while few will defend Emery’s record, revisionism might be necessary to establish why things went so sour, so quickly.

And a new claim from David Ornstein could cast a whole new light on what went wring for the Spaniard.

Writing in a piece for The Athletic, the reliable journalist said: “Particularly impressed by his performances against Arsenal, Emery identified Zaha in the knowledge that the Crystal Palace attacker needed no time to adapt to the Premier League, but the club instead opted for Lille’s Nicolas Pepe, predominantly because of his younger age.”

Now, obviously one signing wouldn’t necessarily have saved Emery’s skin, but Pepe’s inability to hold down a regular starting role for the Gunners this term, contributing just one goal in the Premier League so far, would certainly suggest that, for the time being at least, that £72 million might have been better invested elsewhere.

If Emert thought as much too, could it be that he was sold up the river a little bit by a board who didn’t fully back him?

Potentially so.

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