Arsenal man has his ‘swagger’ back; presents Arteta with pleasant problem

Date published: Wednesday 3rd February 2021 10:30 - Matthew Briggs

Nicolas Pepe TEAMtalk

Martin Keown believes Nicolas Pepe has given Mikel Arteta a pleasant problem with his performances for Arsenal in recent games.

Pepe, starting his fourth match on the bounce in all competitions against Wolves, fired the Gunners ahead with a wonderful goal. The winger jinked pat Nelson Semedo and Ruben Neves before scoring with a fine finish.

Pepe also hit the crossbar, but Arsenal slipped to a 2-1 defeat after David Luiz and Bernd Leno were sent off.

The French-born winger is starting to find his form under Mikel Arteta and beginning to show he looks like a player who was the club’s record signing when he arrived in 2019 for £72m from Lille.

Ex-Arsenal defender Keown said on BT Sport: “It sometimes takes time for players to settle into the Premier League.

“In the second season you expect more and he’s been a slow burner, certainly but now we’re seeing a little bit of form.”

On Pepe’s form being a nice problem for Arteta, Keown replied: “It certainly is because [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang can play out on that left-hand side. Gabriel Martinelli has also come back from injury so there’s some good options now for Arteta.”

Former Arsenal favourite Robert Pires claimed recently that Pepe was “not cut out for English football”.

Pires told The Sun: “His game doesn’t suit the intensity and demands of the Premier League.

“Pepe wasn’t used to it and it has been complicated for him to change his mentality, to adapt to a new way of training and to settle in a tough league.


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Pepe’s ‘swagger’ is back

“I think he is simply not cut out for English football.”

His performance at Molineux did not back up that theory though and Rio Ferdinand claims Pepe has rediscovered his ‘swagger’

Speaking at half-time on BT Sport, Ferdinand said: “Pepe has got his swagger back.

“We have mentioned the press being so successful for this Arsenal team coming into this game.

“Here they saw it, they smelt it and they went in and win the ball, Pepe himself wins it first and then it’s about him from here.

“He puts it through [Nelson] Semedo’s legs, a bit of luck and a bit of trickery, shuffles his way through and this finish is just sublime.

“What a finish off his right foot. He’s starting to show glimpses of why they invested so heavily in him.”

READ MORE: Arteta delivers impassioned defence of red card duo

 

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