Pepe still has plenty to do, admits Arsenal boss Emery

Nicolas Pepe is doing individual training work to help him adapt to life at Arsenal.

The Ivory Coast international joined from Lille over the summer having scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season.

Pepe has since started three of Arsenal’s six games at the start of the campaign and is yet to show why the Gunners paid a reported £72million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.

  1. Nicolas Pepe £72m from Lille, 2019
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang £55m from Borussia Dortmund, 2018
  3. Alexandre Lacazette £45m from Lyon, 2017
  4. Mesut Ozil £38.2m from Real Madrid, 2013
  5. Shkodran Mustafi £35m from Valencia, 2016

Gunners head coach Unai Emery has used the 24-year-old as a second striker alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in two games, a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool and last week’s 2-2 draw away to Watford.

Now the Spaniard admits he and his coaching staff are working closely with Pepe to speed up his adjustment in the hope he can impress against Aston Villa on Sunday.

“He needs to adapt,” said Emery.

“He is playing well but progressively we know there is going to be more from him to help us and I want him to take the last step quickly in adapting for us.

“We are working with him – after training we are watching individual videos with him.

“He is playing well but also we need in our organisation to be strong with every player to improve a lot.”

Unai Emery says he and his coaching staff are working with Pepe on getting used to the Premier League
Unai Emery says he and his coaching staff are working with Pepe on getting used to the Premier League (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Emery and his players faced plenty of criticism after letting a two-goal half-time lead slip at Vicarage Road – where they were lucky to leave with a share of the spoils.

But, after making seven alterations, Arsenal impressed in a 3-0 Europa League victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night.

Former Paris St Germain boss Emery concedes he ultimately has to deliver for the club’s supporters but insists he is never too reactive to a result.

“When we are winning I stay calm, when we are losing I stay calm,” he added.

“I want to win more than lose and really I want to be consistent in our way and in our steps ahead. We know each match is very important because we have a lot of supporters in London, England and also worldwide.

“We know our responsibility and we know we want to give them very good moments, we want to give them special moments and feel connected with us because it is not only how we can win, it is also how we can play and how we can give them our energy, our capacity, our skills and enjoy each match with us.”

Pepe came off the bench in Frankfurt and is likely to be recalled to the starting line-up against Villa as Alexandre Lacazette remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Fit-again Rob Holding will be pushing for his first appearance since December 2018 while full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney – signed from Celtic in the summer – both played a little over an hour in an under-23 fixture against Wolves on Friday night as they step up their respective comebacks.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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