Pepe, Sokratis and the six Arsenal players with a point to prove after the international break – Football.London

It’s the second international break of the 2019/2020 season, providing the perfect chance to assess the Arsenal squad.

The Gunners currently sit third in the Premier League table – a point behind Manchester City, are into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup and are looking good to qualify from their Europa League group with relative ease.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Matteo Guendouzi have been the standout players thus far and the youngsters are providing reasons for supporters to be optimistic.

Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are all fully fit again and fans will certainly want to see more of the trio after the international break.

But which players need to show improvements?

Football.london takes a look.

Sokratis

The jury is very much out on one of Emery’s first signings as Gunners head coach. Sokratis has been the one constant in central defence over the past 12 months, without having a regular partner.

He started last season alongside Shokdran Mustafi and finished it in a back three alongside Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal.

It’s all change this term. The latter pair have left while Mustafi is out of favour when it comes to Premier League games, so Sokratis is tying to forge an understanding with summer signing David Luiz.

Sokratis and David Luiz of Arsenal . (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

After seven games the pair have kept just one clean sheet. There is an argument that they don’t get enough protection from those in front, but both have been susceptible to the odd error.

For his dominance against Newcastle United on the opening weekend of the new season, the mistake against Watford is what fans remember more and Sokratis also struggled against the pace of Callum Wilson against Bournemouth.

There has been calls for the Greek to be dropped and with Holding pushing hard for more game time, Sokratis needs to show that he’s worthy of his starting spot.

Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal’s club record signing has shown glimpses of his quality. It’s not too long ago that fans were raving about him becoming the first player in what seemed like forever to dribble past Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

In that game at Anfield Pepe also got the better of Andrew Robertson a couple of times and was always a threat on the counter.

The big criticism of him that day was his end product. At 0-0 he was clean through on goal but could only muster a tame effort which was easily saved by Adrian.

Nicolas Pepe controls the ball in front of Andrew Robertson
(Image: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

And that’s pretty much been the story ever since. Loads of good approach play, but in the final third is where things haven’t clicked just yet and Pepe has himself admitted that he needs time to adjust to English football.

But with a £72m price-tag, it’s unlikely that the Ivory Coast international will be afforded too much time. The hope is that he will come good eventually and all the signs are pointing towards that happening

Although after being substituted in the last two games, coupled with the imminent return of Alexandre Lacazette, Pepe will need to hit the ground running after the international break.

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Reiss Nelson

Injury has meant that the Gunners wonderkid has withdrawn from international duty with the England Under-21’s and is facing up to a fortnight on the sidelines with a knee problem.

This setback has arguably come at the worst time possible for Nelson as there is a chance to put pressure on Pepe.

Having started the season against Newcastle and Burnley, he’s found starts in the Premier League hard to come by and has also seen Bukayo Saka usurp him in the pecking order.

Reiss Nelson celebrates after scoring against Nottingham Forest (Image: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

That’s not to say it won’t happen for Nelson at Arsenal.

The talent is there, he is getting chances. He was impressive against Nottingham Forest as well as Standard Liege and got some minutes away at Manchester United.

Once back from injury, he needs to improve his decision making in the final third and then his Arsenal career could finally take off.

Sead Kolasinac

Good at left-wing back, not so good when asked to operate in a back four. Kolasinac’s strengths and weaknesses have been on show this season. A useful weapon going forward, can’t often be relied up defensively.

But has he done enough to fend off the threat from Kieran Tierney?

Many would say no, in the two appearances the £25m summer signing from Celtic has made he has shown he can defend as well as attack and his crossing ability should excite Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Sead Kolasinac in action against Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium (Image: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The one silver lining for Kolasinac is with the club being careful in regards to Tierney’s fitness, he just might remain the first-choice left-back for a bit longer.

However, Emery will soon have a decision to make.

And for Kolasniac to make it a difficult one he simply must show a bit more, he might never be great defensively but he can improve his crossing to match Tierney.

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Dani Ceballos

The on-loan midfielder has been discussing his future this week.

One day he gave Arsenal fans hope of joining permanently at the end of the season, only to back-track by insisting he wants to fulfil his dream at Real Madrid.

Whilst Ceballos has performed well and is already a fan-favourite, it’s far too early to be talking up a permanent transfer and ought to be doing his talking on the pitch.

Dani Ceballos looks on at the Emirates Stadium (Image: TF-Images/Getty Images)

The Spaniard is talented, but one goal and two assists from 11 appearances is not a great output when taking into consideration that he’s supposed to be making things happen in midfield.

That’s where he needs to improve.

Otherwise, Joe Willock who brings a greater goal threat could soon replace him in the starting XI.

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