Cavalry FC started the season without a bang. They went winless in their first three matches, scoring just two goals, as Joe Mason and Myer Bevan failed to fully live up to the hype up front. After a change in system from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1, Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s team started to see more stuttering success, and the team achieved greater fluidity across the board. At exactly the right moment, Wheeldon Jr. introduced Aribim Pepple into the lineup, and soon afterward, Cavarly hit top gear and climbed all the way up to the top of the table. The 19-year-old has been in incredible form in the past month, scoring 6 goals in 7 matches en route to being named the CPL’s Player of the Month for June. His stuttering form in front of goal has even reportedly earned himself a move to England, the details of which are still being finalized. Here is our analysis of Pepple and his impending move.
Had Cavalry’s centre-forwards started the season off in form, we may never have seen the remarkable rise of Pepple. Joe Mason performed fine enough in the first month, but he struggled to balance the line between holding up the ball deeper on the field, and popping up in the right places to strike home a finish. Aribim Pepple on the other hand has hit those high notes to a tee – making himself a quintessential ‘Target Man’ for Wheeldon Jr.’s side. He’s exceptional with his back to goal, a hulkingly vivacious striker who has the wherewithal to hold off any defender. His hold-up play is therefore an essential element to his game, and something that the Cavs have used to their advantage as he drops toward the ball, or pushes the defenders back. Whether he moves or stays put, he always occupies defenders, which is the major must-have of any ‘Target Man’ in the business.
But in the penalty area is where Pepple truly comes to life. His movement often does not even have to be anything out of the extraordinary, as his anticipation toward where he positions himself is already extraordinary. Pepple always seems to find the exact right pocket of space to finish off a chance, or at the very least, work the goalkeeper into oblivion. He’s done a remarkable job in scoring 6 goals in his last 5 matches, but all of those goals have come in exactly the area you’d expect of a penalty box poacher – in the penalty area. In fact, three of those goals came from set-piece situations, where he can make himself an utter nuisance in crowded spaces.
This is where the combination of his high footballing IQ and strapping strength to win 1v1 duels join up in a wonderful cocktail mix, and he pours those goals into the back of the net. Pepple’s goal conversion currently sits at 32% from his 2.7 shots per game – a remarkably high feat for any player, let alone a 19-year-old.
But we also cannot underestimate Pepple’s sound movement in the box. The Canadian forward always looks to get on the blindside of the defender, playing off the shoulder and creating distance away from his marker.
He’s astute in recognizing gaps of space to move into, and advancing at exactly the right moments to meet the timing of the cross. This is in stark contrast to Joe Mason at the start of the season, who could not time his ventures back into the box to the same level of ease.
A powerful runner, Pepple has completed 50% of his dribbles so far this season, making himself difficult to stop when in full flow. His ability to drop deep and seek spaces for passes also allows others to run in behind, which he can be adept at finding as he turns and uses his strength to wriggle away. His ball manipulation has even become more refined and controlled, which has traditionally been one of the weaker side’s to his game.
Combining all of his extraordinary qualities together, the 19-year-old broke the Canadian Premier League’s record for longest scoring streak, with 6 goals in 5 matches.
OUT OF POSSESSION
Out of possession, the Cavalry forward is responsible for helping lead the side’s pressing structures, and Cavalry are one of the more energetic pressing sides in the league. The Canadian nicely shuffles with the play and angles his body toward his team’s pressing traps, particularly as they look to force their opposition out wide. But as he holds his position in defensive phases after being bypassed, he then becomes a natural outlet in transition. In doing so, he also restricts the opposition’s centre-backs from venturing too far forward, knowing that they have to deal with a 6’1, hulking centre-forward in behind.
Being of a particular height and strength, Pepple is also useful when defending set-pieces, where he will often situate himself toward the penalty area – one of the key danger areas. He’s won a remarkable 63% of his aerial duels so far this season, a staggering number for a centre-forward so often playing with his back to goal. This showcases not only his attacking astuteness, but his potential to hold an important role in Cavalry’s defensive resilience.
Aribim Pepple has enjoyed a wonderful start to his Cavalry move, and has fully earned the attention he’s receiving in the transfer market. We would be sad to see another top CPL player making their way out of the league so soon after re-joining, but happy to see another talented name soon to be staking a claim for the CMNT in Europe. Pepple has a long and prosperous career ahead of him, and we’re only just witnessing the starting blocks of what lies ahead.
So there it is! An analysis of the Canadian Premier League’s latest star – Aribim Pepple. Be sure to check out more of our CANPL articles, and more from this series on departed CANPL stars. Also don’t forget to follow on social media @mastermindsite via the links below! Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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