Unai Emery Says Nicolas Pepe Is 'Capable of Doing More' for Arsenal

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2019

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 19: Nicolas Pepe of FC Arsenal and Dominik Kohr of Eintracht Frankfurt battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League group F match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Arsenal FC on September 19, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is hoping to see more from club-record signing Nicolas Pepe. 

The winger, who arrived from Lille for £72 million in the summer, came off the bench in the Gunners' 3-0 UEFA Europa League win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

Per Josh James for Arsenal's official website, when asked about Arsenal's young players, Emery said:

"We have some new players, and players who we need to work with for their adaptation in the next matches.

"Progressively, they're getting better. For example, Pepe played 30 minutes tonight, and we are happy with him, we are helping him, but I know he's capable of doing more than he's doing."

Arsenal opened the scoring late in the first half through Joe Willock.

After Dominik Kohr was sent off for a second bookable offence for the hosts in the 79th minute, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged a goal apiece in quick succession to secure a strong start to the Gunners' European campaign (U.S. and UK only, respectively):

Pepe registered his second assist for Arsenal for Saka's goal, but the 18-year-old's effort came from his fine 25-yard strike rather than a defence-splitting pass from the Ivorian.

The 24-year-old has yet to score for the Gunners, with the outing against Frankfurt being his sixth appearance. Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown unfavourably compared him to Saka, who assisted both Willock and Aubameyang, telling BT Sport (h/t Goal):

"You think of the way Pepe is playing at the minute. They paid £72 million for him, and this kid looked better than him tonight. 

"When Saka gets the ball, he shows composure, he's passing it into the goal, it's a beautiful finish. To think he's 18 years of age."

Football writer Michael Yokhin shared Keown's view:

It was an impressive performance from the youngster in what was just his fifth senior appearance for Arsenal.

Pepe's pace and dribbling ability have been apparent in his early outings for Arsenal, but he's not contributed as much as Emery would have liked to their attacking output.

The winger notched 23 goals and 12 assists in all competitions for Lille last season, though, so it's clear he has end product in the final third.

Given the expenditure on him, it's natural to expect more from Pepe and hope he can hit the ground running.

It's still early days in his Arsenal career, though, so he shouldn't be written off. With more time to adapt, he could still prove to be an excellent addition at the Emirates Stadium.


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