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Arteta elated as record signing Pepe adapts to life at Arsenal

7 days ago
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Nicolas Pepe scored in the FA Cup against Sheffield United, but Mikel Arteta was just as impressed with his defensive work.

Mikel Arteta believes Nicolas Pepe has "incredible potential", having already developed a greater understanding of what is required from him at Arsenal.

The club's record signing from Lille scored the opening goal in the FA Cup quarter-final victory at Sheffield United on Sunday, converting from the penalty spot in the first half.

Pepe has now scored eight times and registered the same number of assists during a promising debut campaign, though Arteta is confident there is still more to come from the talented 25-year-old.

Arsenal's head coach has been particularly pleased with how the player has grasped his responsibilities without the ball, as well as providing a threat in attack.

"I am very excited about what he can bring and what he's bringing to the team this season," Arteta told the media after the 2-1 victory at Bramall Lane sealed by a late goal from Dani Ceballos.

"I think he's made a click. I think he realises what he needs to do as well when we don't have the ball.

"I'm so pleased today. If you see his defensive actions, it's incredible what he was doing and then with the ball he gives us that creativity. He's a player that we need. It's always unpredictable what can happen when he has the ball is at his feet.

"I think [he is going] in the right direction."

Pepe joined Arsenal when Unai Emery was in charge but Arteta has been impressed by the Ivory Coast international - both on and off the field - since taking charge at Emirates Stadium late in 2019.

"I didn't know him personally but I think he's a player with incredible potential," Arteta - who won the FA Cup twice as a player with the Gunners - said.

"He needs to just be decisive in every game and 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 because if he's at his best, he's a player that can make a difference for the team.

"He's such a nice boy, always smiling, always positive around everybody. He's a bit of a free spirit but that's good.

"You need all types of characters in the team and now he's showing his commitment to us."

Arsenal return to Premier League duty in midweek, hosting bottom club Norwich City on Wednesday.

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