Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery advice finally paying off for Arsenal star
The advice of former managers Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery regarding a young player is finally paying off for Arsenal.
It has been a disappointing season for the Gunners, with many of their star names failing to fire, leaving the club battling for a finish in the top-half of the Premier League.
One of those players who have struggled with inconsistency is Nicolas Pepe, who has found it difficult to live up to the £72million Arsenal paid Lille to sign him.
But he has hit form recently, scoring three goals in his last two games, including a crucial brace in Wednesday’s win over Crystal Palace.
Pepe opened the scoring 35 minutes in, volleying home Keiran Tierney’s cross before adding a second deep in second-half added time when he cut in from the right and slotted into the net.
It is a remarkable change in fortunes for the winger, who struggled to settle into life in England when he first joined the club.
The Arsenal manager at that time was Emery, who had wanted to club to sign Wilfred Zaha instead.
But it was Pepe who was brought into the club and though he was not Emery’s number one target, the Spaniard has insisted that the winger would come good.
“I was thinking at this time that the adaption of Zaha was probably easier and faster than Pepe, but Pepe is a very good player and I think he’s going to progress,” Emery told football.london in January.
“He’s now almost two years in London and he’s going to progress because he’s a very good player.”
Wenger is another former Arsenal boss who saw the talent that Pepe possessed, but did warn the youngster that there were some areas of his game that needed to be improved.
“I like the player, and I thought it was a good decision [to sign him],” Wenger told Omnisport in 2019.
“He's not yet completely adapted, and you have to give him some time. He looks a little bit to be playing not with the freedom he did in France at the moment.
“I see some characteristics of his game, especially off the ball, that don't happen at the moment.
“On the other hand, I must say we have good young players who can play on the flanks, [and] that he will have a fight to keep his position."