English Premiership

Mikel Arteta opens up on Nicolas Pepe: 'I will be very persistent with him'

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta
PA/Supplied

Nicolas Pepe was a shining light for in their FA Cup win against Sheffield United, but head coach Mikel Arteta wants the club's record signing to be more consistent.

Pepe has impressed since football resumed this month, scoring a superb goal in the Premier League defeat to Brighton before his penalty at Bramall Lane on Sunday set the Gunners on their way to the FA Cup semi-finals.

The 25-year-old's spot-kick in the 2-1 victory was the forward's eighth goal of the season since his £72 million arrival at the club last summer.

Arteta said: "It's very important to try and understand a player and find out what his feelings are, how hard it's been to adapt to a new country and a language that he doesn't understand.

"I don't know him from before, but he is very willing, and he is a player with incredible potential. However, he needs to take care of moments in the game when he disconnects himself a little bit. He cannot do that, and I will be very persistent with him to try to change that.

"He also needs to be decisive in every game because if he is at his best, he is a player who can make the difference.

"There are things to work on and improve but he is heading in the right direction. He is doing things very well too, like realising what he needs to do for the team when we don't have the ball. I am very pleased with him."

Sheffield United are without a win since the restart, losing three of their four matches in all competitions, and Blades boss Chris Wilder feels his side are victims of their success.

"The players have been on a brilliant journey and I don't think they should be criticised, honestly I don't. They are the ones who have raised the expectation level, no-one else has raised the bar, it's been down to their hard work," said Wilder.

"What should we have done, chucked some games in and been halfway down the table or down in 17th or 18th where people expected us to be?

"Of course not, but we are a million miles ahead of where we should be. We are having a bit of a struggle at the minute but there needs to be some perspective. I'm quite confident of where we are at."

- TEAMtalk media

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