The Ivorian was sent off in the 0-0 draw at Leeds, with the former Gunners defender saying he wasted a chance to kick-start his season
Nicolas Pepe has been branded “unprofessional” by Martin Keown on the back of his needless red card at Leeds, with the Arsenal forward urged to take a leaf out of Kieran Tierney’s book when it comes to displays of passion.
The big-money Ivorian forward lost his cool during the Premier League trip to Elland Road, the £72 million ($96m) man butting heads with Ezgjan Alioski on his way to taking in an early bath.
Mikel Arteta admitted afterwards that Pepe’s actions were “unacceptable” with Arsenal having to dig deep with 10 men to secure a goalless draw.
Keown is another who believes that Pepe let himself and his team-mates down in a contest that could have kick-started his season, with others showing the kind of commitment that needs to rub off on everyone.
Scotland international Tierney confronted Alioski at the final whistle, as the North Macedonian saw his theatrics called into question with Keown looking for the rest of an inconsistent squad to follow the lead of the fiery full-back.
The former Gunners centre-half told the Daily Mail: “This was only Nicolas Pepe’s second Premier League start of the season despite arriving with that £72m price tag in the summer of 2019.
“Arsenal’s club-record signing could have used this opportunity to launch his campaign. Instead, his unprofessional behaviour put his team under pressure and, in the end, manager Mikel Arteta had to be satisfied with earning an away point with 10 men.
“This is a team that are rebuilding under Arteta. I was impressed with some of the fighting spirit on show.
“The way Kieran Tierney was trying to have a word with Leeds United’s Alioski at full-time – the player he saw as the protagonist in Pepe’s sending off – showed impressive fighting spirit.
“Tierney typified that spirit in the game itself, too. He’s not just at the back trying to keep a clean sheet. He bombs forward and puts in those extra yards for his team.
“Tierney might have felt incensed to see Granit Xhaka with his arm around Alioski at the end of the game after what had happened. I would have certainly felt like that if I’d seen one of my team-mates practically fraternising with the enemy.
“Xhaka then pushed Tierney away from the situation when he tried to confront Alioski, but the dust will settle from that incident. Tierney is just the type of personality Arsenal need in their team.”