Freddie Ljungberg has backed Nicolas Pepe to succeed as an Arsenal player after his stuttering start to life in north London.
In an interview with The Athletic’s David Ornstein, the Arsenal legend affirmed his belief that the club’s record signing – £72 million from Lille last summer – will make good on his undoubted potential, despite his inconsistencies and struggle for gametime in his Arsenal career so far.
“I think Nico will come good… every player makes mistakes. I got sent off at Spurs! Don’t slaughter them too much, because it happens to all of us. The important thing is how they react afterwards and if he knuckles down, works even harder and still tries to prove himself. He’s not had the easiest time, there’s a lot of focus on him”.– Freddie Ljungberg
Pepe has been the subject of constant scrutiny from fans and pundits alike since his arrival at Arsenal, and this season fans in particular have been clamouring to see him start in the Premier League after turning in a string of impressive performances in Europe.
But he was infamously sent off during Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Leeds last weekend, and will now face a three match suspension in the league.
Mikel Arteta and Arsenal fans will be relieved, however, that Nico appears to regret his mistake, and seems to be ready to work to make up for it. After apologising to his teammates and the fans on Instagram after the Leeds game, he turned in a standout performance in Arsenal’s Europa League game against Molde on Thursday night, where he capped a lively display with a well-taken finish.
Nico is suspended for Arsenal’s next three league games, against Wolves (H), Tottenham (A) and Burnley (H), but is available in the Europa League for the team’s remaining group fixtures.
Author: Ben Kitto
Photo: Ronnie Macdonald, 2007