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Arsenal’s $130m star signing savaged over ‘idiotic’ headbutt

Earlier this month Nicolas Pepe had a clear message for Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta.
Earlier this month Nicolas Pepe had a clear message for Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta.

“My goal is to play more, to have a little more playing time,” he told Canal+.

“A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again.”

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At the time he had started just once and come on as a sub six times for a total of 72 minutes on the field.

Pepe wanted to change that but Arteta was hesitant - he had doubts over whether the record-signing could remain switched on.

Pepe trudges from the field after being shown a red card for a headbutt.
Pepe trudges from the field after being shown a red card for a headbutt.Source: AFP

“It is frustrating for any player to be on the bench,” he continued.

“A supersub role? The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.

“He [Arteta] wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match.”

Well, he got a chance to prove himself in what was his second starting appearance for the Gunners and he was anything but focused for the entire 90 minutes.

In fact, he was given his marching orders after just 51.

“It’s unacceptable, unacceptable,” a disappointed Arteta said post-game.

“When Pepe let the team down we stuck with what we had to do and had a moment or two to win the game, but it makes it difficult.”

Pepe generated plenty of headlines when he signed on at Arsenal for a record $A130 million.

His presence alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette was supposed to form one of the most lethal front-threes in the league.

But it has instead turned into a nightmare and a formation change and shift in position for Aubameyang did little to fix the problem against Leeds.

The Gunners have now scored just one goal in their last five Premier League games.

Pepe’s actions were lashed by former Arsenal player Ian Wright, who branded him as “totally unprofessional.”

Pepe is shown a red card by Anthony Taylor.
Pepe is shown a red card by Anthony Taylor.Source: AFP

“You can’t get into people’s face like that. Alioski has gone down like he’s really got a proper headbutt but at the same time that’s just totally unprofessional and just poor from him,” Wright told Premier League Productions.

‘‘From somebody that has been complaining about not getting enough game time, somebody that has now got his chance and he’s let everybody down.”

Arteta was satisfied with the result in the end but it all came back to Pepe’s brainfade.

“Considering how we got Pepe sent off, a draw is okay,” he said.

“I never like playing for a draw, but in the circumstances a point is okay.

”In the first 30 minutes we were more dominant and created a lot of issues. But then the game broke a bit and we gave the ball away in difficult areas.

“We suffered and in the second half we were early with 10 men and it was a matter of defending well and staying patient, and using the pace of our players and the spaces they were leaving.”

Nicolas Pépé has now received as many red cards in the Premier League this season as he has produced goals and assists combined (1).

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 22, 2020

The sooner we realise Nicolas Pépé wasn't worth £72m, the better. I doubt any club will even pay £30m for him if we're looking to sell him next summer.

— Waldo (@AFCWaldo) November 22, 2020

Nicolas Pepe has 6 goals in 38 games since signing for Arsenal. He is the club-record fee of £72 million, it's safe to say that he has to be one of the biggest flops in Premier League history

— Aidan Walsh
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