Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta faced the media today ahead of his side’s Premier League clash against Newcastle United on Sunday.
The defeat against Villarreal is still very fresh in Arteta’s memory, but he at least had something to cheer about yesterday – an away goal.
Nicolas Pepe converted from the spot after Bukayo Saka won a penalty, and that keeps us alive in the competition. The Ivorian deserves a ton of credit – not just for scoring, but also for his brilliant overall performance.
Arteta was asked about Pepe’s fantastic record in the Europa League this season. The former Lille man has scored six goals and has provided four assists in just nine starts in the competition this term, and the Arsenal boss is beyond delighted with him.
He said, as per Arsenal.com: “I think he’s come a long way in the last few months. His work ethic has been phenomenal and he’s deciding many more games and doing what he can do in the final third in a much more consistent way.
“So, I’m really happy with his performances and now he needs to continue like this.”
The Insider’s View:
There was a moment earlier this season where we all felt that Pepe’s Arsenal career was coming to an end. He faced the wrath of Arteta after his red card against Leeds United, and spent a lot of time watching from the sidelines.
Pepe could easily have put his head down and accepted defeat. He could’ve just waited until the summer to get himself a move away from the Emirates, but he put his head down, worked hard and is back on Arteta’s good side.
The Ivorian has directly been involved in 16 goals in 26 starts in all competitions. That is a very good return for a winger, especially for one who has never really got a consistent run of games from the start.
As Arteta said, Pepe should continue what he is doing and improve even more. He has been brilliant for us in recent weeks, but we all know he is capable of so much better. Hopefully, we see his best version very soon.