August 1, 2021

Arteta: ‘Improved’ Pepe has been a real threat for Arsenal

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The Ivory Coast international has contributed at least a goal in the Gunners’ last two away games in the English top-flight

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised Nicolas Pepe for his improvement and has urged him to continue to be a threat to their opposition.

Pepe has played from start to finish in the Gunners’ last two matches and on Wednesday, he scored in his second straight Premier League away game but it was not enough to help the visitors avoid defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

The Ivorian forward has contributed four goals in 15 league appearances in this campaign, excluding his tally of three goals and three assists in the Europa League.

Ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Aston Villa, Arteta commended Pepe for his work ethics and he hopes the 25-year-old keeps improving as Arsenal aim to bounce back from Wednesday’s setback.

“Even when we made decisions not to play him, he kept working hard,” Arteta said in a press conference on Thursday. “He has improved in a lot of areas and has been much more consistent for 90 minutes.

“He’s a threat at the moment because he’s been scoring goals, he’s been assisting players, he’s been a real threat. He needs to continue doing that.

“At the end of the day, we have to play the players who are in the best form and everybody has to earn the right to play and participate in the games. That’s what everybody’s doing, pushing each other to raise the level.

“You can see that the level has been raised because everybody is playing at their best. There’s still room for improvement so everybody has to keep pushing.”

Arsenal are 10th in the league table with 31 points from 22 matches, a point behind ninth-placed Aston Villa who have two games in hand.