Mikel Arteta has hailed an improving Nicolas Pepe after the Ivorian scored Arsenal’s first goal against Sheffield United.
Pepe joined the Gunners from Lille for a club-record fee last summer. He had been the second top scorer in the French top flight and he was expected to set the Premier League on fire when he moved to England.
However, he struggled at the start of the season and came under heavy criticism for some of his performances for the Gunners.
When Arteta became the club’s manager, his man-management skill became a useful tool in transforming the individual performances of the players at the Emirates, and Pepe is one player that has benefited.
The Ivorian now looks to be improving in every other game, and Arteta has praised the winger.
He claimed that the Ivorian seems to have clicked, and he is now more aware of what is expected of him as a member of the Arsenal team.
“I’m very excited about what he can bring [in the future] and what he’s bringing to the team this season,” said Arteta via Arsenal.com.
“I think he’s made a click and I think he realises what he needs to do for the team when we don’t have the ball.
“I’m so pleased today, you’ve seen his defensive actions were incredible with what he’s doing, and then with the ball he gives us that creativity and flair that we need and big teams need. He’s always unpredictable with what can happen when he’s got the ball at his feet, so I think he’s [heading] in the right direction.
“I really liked him from the past. I didn’t know him personally, but I think he is a player with incredible potential, but he needs to be decisive in every game and he needs to take care of moments in the game when he disconnects himself a little bit. He cannot do that, and I will be very persistent with him to try to change that because at his best, he can make the difference for the team.”