Mikel Arteta explains why Nicolas Pepe struggled at Arsenal under Unai Emery

Nicolas Pepe has started Arsenal’s last two matches on the substitutes’ bench (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta insists he understands the reasons behind the underwhelming start Nicolas Pepe has made to his Arsenal career but believes the club’s record signing will feature in his plans, as long as he shows the correct attitude.

Arsenal agreed a £72million fee with Lille in the summer for the Ivory Coast international, but the winger struggled to cement a regular place in the team under Unai Emery.

Pepe appeared to have kick-started his Premier League career with his first goal from open play in the recent 3-1 win over West Ham, but has started Arsenal’s two most recent matches, against Everton and Bournemouth, on the bench.

Arteta introduced Pepe with just eight minutes remaining on Boxing day at the Vitality Stadium as Arsenal came from behind to claim a point following a 1-1 draw.

The 37-year-old claimed he was encouraged by Pepe’s brief cameo but warned he must show focus and determination in training if he is to force his way back into the starting XI.

Arsenal battled to a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth in what was Mikel Arteta’s first game as manager (Picture: Getty)

‘I think it is a mixture of things,’ said the new Arsenal manager when asked about Pepe’s slow start.

‘It was obviously a big chance from France to come here. As well he found a team that at that moment probably wasn’t performing at its best.

‘The environment wasn’t the best for him to settle. It is not only about him we are here to help him.

‘If he is willing to learn and willing to work hard I assure he has potential to be top absolutely top. Today in two or three actions he has shown how good he can be but he has to be consistent.

‘The problem is only confidence will only come when he plays but he has to train well enough to convince the manager I am confident enough to play him.

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