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Arsenal new boy Nicolas Pepe compared to Thierry Henry after star ends Virgil van Dijk record

Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe was showered in praise after making his full debut for the club against Liverpool on Saturday – and he will love the comparisons being made about him.

The Ivory Coast international signed for a club-record £72m in the summer from Lille but had to settle for a place on the bench in Arsenal’s wins against Newcastle and Burnley.

Unai Emery gave him his full debut for the trip to face European champions Liverpool though and he put in a very accomplished performance.

In fact the 24-year-old became the first player in 50 Premier League appearances to take Virgil van Dijk and his blistering pace gave the Liverpool defence all sorts of problems throughout.

Nicolas Pepe caused Liverpool problems in defence
Nicolas Pepe caused Liverpool problems in defence
(Image: Getty Images)

While Arsenal ended up losing the game at Anfield 3-1, Pepe’s performance was a big plus and former Liverpool defender Jamie Redknapp raved about the record signing.

“In Pepe they’ve probably had the best player on the pitch,” Redknapp said on Sky Sports.

“I’ve seen Arsenal come here in the last few years and they haven’t done anything at all.

“But they have got a special talent in Pepe, I’ve been so impressed with him.

Nicolas Pepe was handed his full debut for Arsenal at Liverpool
Nicolas Pepe was handed his full debut for Arsenal at Liverpool
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“He’s always looking to run on the shoulder, he’s causing mayhem.

“When they started to be a bit more direct, that’s when they started to cause problems.

“You can see the keeper doesn’t know what to do, Virgil van Dijk has had problems all game.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily because he’s not playing well, I just think it’s more because of Pepe.”

Thierry Henry is Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer
Thierry Henry is Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer
(Image: AFP)

Pepe could have had at least one goal in the first half, fluffing his lines when through on goal after brilliantly beating Andy Robertson.

And Redknapp compared him to legendary Arsenal forward Thierry Henry.

“We’re going to see a lot of this this system, [Pepe’s] going to get the ball on his left foot and try to bend it in the top corner, that one just goes past the post,” the pundit continued.

“But Pepe, I really, really enjoyed his performance. It’s not very often you see Robertson have problems, no one ever normally takes him on.

Nicolas Pepe joined Arsenal in the summer for £72m
Nicolas Pepe joined Arsenal in the summer for £72m
(Image: Getty Images)

“But he has been breathtaking, he’s got that blistering pace, lovely skill.

“He shows lovely balance, he wants to get it on his left foot if he can, you can see it there, he could have finished, maybe a bit of confidence, he would have taken it on with his right foot.

“But he just tries to open his body up, we used to see Thierry Henry do this in his prime.

“As he shifts it he tries to get it open and just try to bend it in that corner but straight at the goalkeeper.

“But if he carries on like that he is going to score so many goals for Arsenal.

“He’s got that pace that defenders hate playing against.”

Original article: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/arsenal-new-boy-nicolas-pepe-19001497

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