Nicolas Pepe’s start to the season has been a difficult one. Having pretty much cemented his place in the starting XI after lockdown, he has found himself benched for new signing Willian in the first four Premier League games.
However, his introduction in the second half yesterday added something to the team from an attacking point of view, not least of which was a superb, dynamic goal to double the lead not long after Bukayo Saka’s opener.
The Ivorian played a one-two with Hector Bellerin, raced into the Sheffield United box, and precision-guided a lovely finish in off the post.
That spark, that pace, is something we need to see more of on a more consistent basis, but afterwards Mikel Arteta was pleased – not just with the goal he scored – but the focus with which he did his job having again failed to start.
“I am really happy, first of all for him and also for the contribution he made to the team,” said the Arsenal boss.
“When this type of player is not playing, obviously they are not happy but I demanded them on matchday to be completely focused and determined to make the impact when they have the chance to play, and that is exactly what he has done.
“I think it is another step forward for him, he is capable of doing that but he needs to do it with consistency.
“This is the demand we are going to put on him but I am delighted that he has done it and he helped the team a lot today to get the points.”