Arteta: ‘£72m Pepe has my full support’
Arsenal boss puts his faith in record signing after winger’s red card during goalless draw at Leeds
27 November, 2020 — By Steve Barnett
Nicolas Pepe will miss Arsenal’s Premier League games against Wolves, Tottenham and Burnley
MIKEL Arteta is pulling no punches with Nicolas Pepe, insisting Arsenal’s £72million record signing “needs to embrace” the club’s “huge investment” in him.
The Gunners boss was visibly angered by Pepe’s “unacceptable” behaviour on Sunday when the winger was sent off in the goalless draw away at Leeds for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski.
Arteta says it is still his job to “protect” Pepe, but it is down to the player if he’s going to be a big hit in north London or not.
“We all have disappointment and frustrations in our playing careers,” he added.
“He’s had a really good reaction – he apologised and understood his responsibility.”
Pepe will now miss the Premier League games against Wolves, Tottenham and Burnley, meaning he will have to start making amends in the Europa League.
Asked if he feared the incident may have meant an early end to Pepe’s Arsenal career, Arteta said: “No, it is absolutely not. I will give Nico my full support. He knows the things that he has to improve but we all know his qualities.
“That’s where I am going to put the pressure on, to deliver what we know he can do. I have a lot of responsibility to get the best out of him and I cannot fault his effort.
“The club made a huge investment in him and people expect a lot. He needs to embrace that challenge and go for it.
“He needs to feel that myself and the club are going to protect him. We are giving him time that he needs to adapt to the Premier League.
“With his ability, I am going to be very demanding because I know what he can do and he needs to deal with that.
“He has reacted the right way and hopefully I can see a player that shows that every week. It’s completely down to him.”
Trying to make the peace, Pepe apologised for the red card on Instagram, saying: “I have let my team down at a crucial time of the game and there is no excuses for my behaviour.
“I am deeply sorry and would like to apologise to the fans, my teammates, my coach and everyone else at the club.”
The Gunners took a break from their domestic woes last night (Thursday) when they travelled to face Molde in the Europa League.
Arsenal beat the Norwegians 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium earlier this month. And speaking before kick-off at the Aker Stadion, Arteta said: “We want to be there, win the game and we know that will give us the qualification.”