With Arsenal 2-1 down to lowly Vitoria at the Emirates last night, the introduction of Nicolas Pepe for Alexandre Lacazette was our last substitution and our last attacking change.
Having not scored since the penalty against Aston Villa, all eyes were on the Ivorian to see if he could get his first goals from open play. He didn’t, but the two free kicks he scored were sensational, and capped the 3-2 Arsenal comeback on the night (see the goals in the match report here).
Speaking afterwards, Unai Emery reiterated his belief in the £72m man, and revealed the goals were reward for some training ground work from the former Lille man.
“Pepe is a very good player and we believe in him, totally,” said the Spaniard.
“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.
“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.”
It’s a good confidence boost for Pepe, and the team, ahead of Sunday’s must-win Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.