Mikel Arteta has explained that Nicolas Pepe earned his recent chance in the Arsenal team after impressing in training and feels he seized the opportunity on Tuesday.
Gunners attacker Pepe played in in the weekend defeat to Southampton in the FA Cup, but maintained his starting position yesterday for the Premier League fixture against the same opposition.
Arsenal avenged their cup defeat by beating Southampton 3-1 at St Mary’s in the league, meaning the team has won five of their last six league matches.
Pepe scored a crucial equaliser for the North London giants to help set them on their way to three points.
The 25-year-old is a left-footed wide player that usually operates from the right cutting inside, but he enjoyed great success against the Saints after being deployed on the opposite flank.
Spanish manager Arteta was extremely complimentary of the Ivory Coast international for his latest display.
“I think the other night [in the cup] he had a good game, he was involved in our best attacking moments and the way he had been training he deserved his chance and today he did his job really well,” Arteta said after the win against Southampton, as quoted by the Metro.
“He was really good again. He created big moments. He deserved his chance today and he took it.”
Pepe has had a stop-start season due to his form and hasn’t been able to nail down a starting position in the team, but the manager certainly hasn’t lost faith in him.
He is a skilful winger that has six goals in 24 games this campaign in all competitions and can help add an extra goal threat in the final third.
He has plenty of competition at the Emirates Stadium in the forward positions, especially after the loan signing of Martin Odegaard, but he’s got the individual ability to thrive.