Arsenal Boss Mikel Arteta called Nicholas Pepe’s behaviour during their Premier League goalless draw with Leeds United “unacceptable” after the winger got sent off in the 51st minute following a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski.
The Ivory Coast international was making just his second start or the season but only displayed a behaviour that only invited the wrath of the manager. The Red was dished out following a VAR review that left the referee Antony Taylor no option.
“Considering how early we got Pepe sent off we have to take it. I never like a draw but in the circumstances, it’s a point. It is unacceptable.
“The first half there were two different periods. The game broke a bit, we started to give the ball away and led to them having the space to break. The second half it was a matter of defending well and staying patient and using the pace of our players in the space they were leaving.”
Freddie Ljungberg, former Arsenal interim Boss, who also worked with Pepe believes that the 24 year old has definitely missed his chance to break into Arteta’s first team. According to Ljungberg, Pepe had the capabilities of being the match winner due to Leed’s pattern of play but his behaviour “Stops His Own Progress”.
“With what the rules are today, he can’t have any complaints. You can say the player is not in a lot of pain, but the rules are the rules and you can’t do that in today’s game.
“Nico hasn’t played that much and it was a good opportunity for him today. He stops his own progress with his behaviour. He looked frustrated and I thought this game would be good for Pepe. Leeds play man-to-man and I thought he would get isolated against left-back and beat them. He can do that and I thought he could be the match winner today.”
Patrice Evra saw the act as an attribute of frustration and was able to point out, Alioski had given Pepe a lot of issues down to flank but pointed out, Pepe was “Silly” for his actions, given the huge opportunity given to him by Arteta.
Evra also believes that Alioski overreacted and deserves an Oscar for his good play.
“I’m disappointed [in him]. It came from frustration. You can see early on he was already dealing with Alioski. But Pepe is not happy and it’s a little bit silly. He should apologise to his team-mates as Arsenal had a plan and everything changed after that.
“Alioski deserved an Oscar because he played it so well. If I was Leeds’ coach, I would be so happy with him. He looked like he broke his nose but he didn’t have anything wrong with him. Really, really silly from Pepe. Arteta gave him a chance, so he can’t come and cry if he doesn’t play the next game.