Mikel Arteta says he was impressed by the way Nicolas Pepe responded to Sunday’s red card as the Ivorian delivered a fine goal-scoring performance to help Arsenal to a 3-0 win against Molde in Norway.
A constant threat in the first half, the 25-year-old went on to hit the bar just after the break before finally breaking the deadlock on 50 minutes with another left foot curler.
Having been the target of his manager’s ire after Sunday’s draw with Leeds, this was a great way to start repairing the damage.
“I am really pleased,” said Arteta. “After the disappointment of something negative, you want to see a reaction and I could see from the first minute with his body language that he was ready to act.
“I think he had a great performance, he scored one goal and could have scored another one or two. He created some good moments in the game and worked really hard for the team, so I really like it, I am pleased with that.”
He added: “We all know what his level is, and all the time the question is how often he can get to that level and how he contributes to other aspects of the game.
“Today is the example of the level he needs to hit, and he needs to keep doing it because he is capable of it and you can see that every time he gets in those positions win the final third, he is a real threat and a very difficult player to control because he can go with his feet, he can come inside, he can shoot, he can create crosses and he can go in behind you as well. That is what we can expect from him.”
Banned for three games in the Premier League, Pepe will have to make do with further game time in the Europa League in the coming weeks. Here’s hoping he can pick up where he left off when Rapid Vienna visit the Emirates next Thursday.