Unai Emery says he’s very happy for Nicolas Pepe after the Ivorian scored two free-kicks in 12 minutes to rescue Arsenal from the ignominy of defeat to Portuguese side Vitoria.
Arsenal’s record signing took just five minutes to make an impact off the bench as he curled home an equaliser before he repeated the trick in stoppage time to seal a 3-2 win.
The Gunners had struggled in the first half with the visitors pace and trickery, twice falling behind, either side of Gabriel Martinelli’s header.
After the game, Emery admitted that Pepe’s goals could go a long way to boosting the winger’s confidence.
“Every player, usually, they need time to adapt,” said the Spaniard.
“Pepe is a very good player and we believe in him, totally. The way he’s going, sometimes he feels better, sometimes it’s with more difficulty on the pitch. It depends on the opponent.
“He’s improving and tonight those two goals are really important for us first, and then secondly for him. He’s continuing the adaptation in his process and as soon as he can adapt, that’s better for us.”
On the goals, he added: “We are very happy for him and for us because those two goals, from two set-pieces, were perfect.
“He was trying a lot of set-piece shooting on the training ground last week and I was watching his shooting, because I was also positive in that situation when we can have players like Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ceballos or others to shoot.
“The most important thing is the three points and that some individual players can improve, that they can take confidence for us and for them.”
The other big talking point of the evening was Emery’s decision to omit Mesut Ozil from his matchday squad for the fifth game in a row.
Yesterday, the German cryptically captioned a message on social media that many took to be a sarcastic dig at the Spaniard. It read: “You make me laugh…”
When asked why he again decided not to use the club’s highest earner, Emery would not be drawn.
“Tonight is not the day to speak about that,” he said, before twice more turning down questions on the subject.
“I prefer to speak about the match. We have all the players who played,” he added. “He’s not in the squad. That is the decision tonight. Now we are going to work towards Sunday.”