A goal and and two assists against Sunderland, plus the repeated roasting of visitors’ left-back, served as a timely reminder of Nicolas Pepe’s enigmatic talent.
However, it’s not lost on manager Mikel Arteta that the winger is unhappy with his lack of game time.
While the Ivorian completed the full game last night, he’s been unable to shake his status as Premier League benchwarmer since the Gunners drew with Crystal Palace in mid-October.
Ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Norwich, Arteta said: “A player that doesn’t play, if he’s happy you have a big problem and Nico has not been happy, he’s been trying to challenge us and asking us for more minutes because this is what he wants to do and rightly so and this is the attitude that we want from our players.”
Those words came less than 12 hours after he’d laid down the gauntlet to all those on the fringes of his squad.
“It is hard for everyone who doesn’t play,” said Arteta in his post-Sunderland press conference.
“What they have to do is when they have the minutes, show on the pitch that they can do it and they are ready when the team needs him.”
Bernd Leno is another who is feeding off scraps at the moment. The German has had a watching brief since Aaron Ramsdale burst on the scene and it’s widely accepted he’ll depart the club next summer.
Pressed on whether discussions about Leno’s future had taken place, Arteta said: “No, the situation now is that Aaron has been starting the matches in the Premier League and he’s been outstanding.
“Bernd had the chance to play yesterday and he had a really good game and that’s the situation that every single player has in any team in football when somebody else is playing, you are not playing as much and if not, you have to play a different sport.”