Arteta explains example Pepe must follow after redemption with Arsenal goal

Date published: Thursday 26th November 2020 8:55

Mikel Arteta sent a clear message to Nicolas Pepe after the Arsenal forward took a step towards redemption by scoring in the Europa League.

Arsenal booked their place in the Europa League Round of 32 with two games to spare by beating Molde 3-0.

Pepe got the first goal to set them on their way to victory. It marked an improvement in fortunes for the Ivory Coast international, who received a red card in his last Premier League appearance.

Arteta was not happy with Pepe after that incident, in which the winger headbutted Leeds’ Ezgjan Alioski off the ball. However, he kept his faith in him for the trip to Molde.

Pepe had a much more positive evening, showing the better side of what he can do. He had a few chances, and made the most of one when he curled home the opener.

The former Lille star has not always lived up to his price tag, but the goal was an example of what the club-record signing can do when he is at his best.

Indeed, Arteta insists those are the standards he needs to strive for more regularly.

“We all know where his level is,” Arteta said after the game.

“All the time the question is how often can he get to that level and contribute to other aspects of the game. Today is the example.

“It has to be the level he has to hit and from then on he has to keep improving because he’s capable of doing it.

“You can see every time he gets in those positions and in the final third he’s a really threat and a really difficult player to control.

“He can come on his feet, he can go in behind as well. That’s what he expect from him.

“I am really pleased. After the disappointment you want to see something stand-out really quickly and I could see from the first minute his body language that he was ready to act.

“I think he had a great performance. He scored a goal. He could have scored another one or two, created some great moments in the game and worked really hard for the team.

“I really liked it and I’m so pleased for that.”



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Balogun deserved goal, says Arteta

The scorer of the last goal was Folarin Balogun, who was making just his second appearance for the club as a substitute.

The youngster has been the subject of transfer speculation recently, but Arteta has stated that he wants him to stay.

Balogun showed just why by getting the goal that wrapped up the win – and Arteta says it was a deserved moment.

“Well deserved for the boy” he said. “He’s working really hard.

“He had some difficult months as well.

“We had some speculation around him. He’s handled the situation in a really mature way.

“He wants to stay, we want him to stay. We gave him the opportunity and he took it straight away.”


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