Nicolas Pepe bounced back from his recent red-card disappointment with a Man of the Match performance and a Player of the Week nomination on Thursday.
Rewind a few days and some Arsenal fans were talking about the beginning of the end of Nicolas Pepe’s career with the club. The winger had just picked up a very silly red card against Leeds United, during his second Premier League start of the season.
Fortunately for the 25-year-old, Arsenal are still in the midst of the Europa League group stage, so Pepe will be able to play regularly during his three-match ban. His first chance to put things right was away to Molde on Thursday.
The winger certainly made good use of the opportunity, winning Arsenal’s Man of the Match award and earning a nomination for the Europa League Player of the Week.
As Mikel Arteta said afterwards, “[you] could see from the first minute with his body language that he was ready to act”.
The winger was certainly Arsenal’s biggest goal threat, taking six shots across the 90 minutes. He scored one for the opening goal, hitting the woodwork with another.
Nicolas Pépé deserves this goal 👏
A great response from Arsenal’s record signing and a great finish to boot. #UEL pic.twitter.com/vWWVG1iVAK
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 26, 2020
But Pepe was also on form creatively. He made four chances, including one big chance, and completed 88% of his passes.
Perhaps just as importantly, the former Lille man’s dribbling stats were way up. He completed eight of 10 attempted dribbles, twice as many as he completed in the other three group stage games (four). He’s always at his best taking people on.
It’s one thing to do it against Molde, and quite another to do it in the Premier League. But right now, this is the only option for Pepe to redeem himself, so it’s a great start.