Mikel Arteta said that Nicholas Pepe getting sent off against Leeds was “unacceptable”, but according to the ex-Arsenal striker Paul Merson, it was a blessing in disguise and the Gunners may not have left Elland Road with a point if Pepe had stayed on the field.
We know that Merson was not the biggest Wenger fan, and he is certainly not known for holding back when talking about his former club, but he really laid into Arsenal when he was asked on SkySports about the Gunners winning at Man United and then not winning since.
Merson said: “Some people are saying one step forward, one step back. One step back?! That’s kind,”
“It did Arsenal a favour when Nicolas Pepe got sent off, Leeds then ran out of ideas because Arsenal had to sit deep.
“Only a couple weeks before, Leicester went to Leeds and put four past them. Leeds let in goals. The teams that beat them are the teams with players who can glide past their defenders; Arsenal don’t have that.
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is bringing absolutely nothing to the party at the moment. He played central and he was ineffective as he was before.
“You watch them and think they are a middle-of-the-table team. Looking back at that win at Manchester United, it doesn’t look so great now.”
Well, they say every cloud has a silver lining, so maybe it did do us a favour, and also it may have galvanised Pepe to start playing his A-game like he did against Molde.
The problem is; Now Pepe has found his mojo, Arteta can’t pick him to play against Wolves or Tottenham!
Perhaps not such a silver lining after all!