Mikel Arteta has told Nicolas Pepe that he still needs to find more consistency after the winger scored in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Dundalk on Thursday.
The 25-year-old – who became the Gunners’ record signing when he joined from Lille for £72m last summer – had a frustrating first half, losing the ball on no less than 15 occasions.
But he found the back of the net just after half-time with a superb effort from the edge of the box before being substituted off on the hour mark.
It was a performance which encapsulated Pepe’s up-and-down spell at the Emirates since signing, and speaking at full-time Arteta said he still needs to do more in order to be included in the starting line-up more regularly.
“He’s not been first choice in all of the games at the moment but he’s played a lot of moments,” he said. “Some have been better than others.
“It’s about finding the consistency, not through the games but during the games as well to be more incisive, and do the right things on many occasions when he has to make the right decision on the pitch.
“It’s nothing to do with his attitude. He’s a player who takes risks, a very creative player – that’s the most difficult thing in football, when the opposition know what you can do, how much they want to prevent the space, and creating situations from that is complicated.
“But sometimes it’s the simple things, the deliveries, the amount of situations he’s able to create or attract and then make the right decision to keep evolving that phase of play.
“For example, the finishing, the position inside the box, he has to be more consistent at it. We’re working on it, and hopefully he will be doing it much more efficiently.”
It remains to be seen if Pepe starts Arsenal’s huge Premier League game against Manchester United on Sunday, with the Gunners looking to bounce back after two consecutive 1-0 defeats in the division to Manchester City and Leicester.
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