Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has waxed lyrical about Nicolas Pepe after his impressive performance last night as well as his apology to the Gunners contingent.
Last week, the 25-year-old was handed a start by Mikel Arteta as Arsenal faced Leeds in a Premier League game at Elland Road.
However, Pepe was sent off after confronting Ezgjan Alioski in an off-the-ball incident and moving his head towards his opponent’s forehead.
The Leeds man went down clutching his head and, after a quick look at the VAR monitor, referee Anthony Taylor showed the Gunners man a red card.
Arteta opted to stick with Pepe in the starting XI for the Europa League trip to Molde and the winger made amends with a superb display and a goal in a 3-0 win.
Mustafi was delighted with his teammate, believing he delivered the perfect response on the pitch as well as showing the right attitude off it with his apology.
“We all make mistakes and we all go through periods where things aren’t going the way you want them to go, but I think the most important thing is that the team stays behind everyone and in my opinion this is our strength.
“If you want to win something or achieve something, those are the little details that can make the difference.
“I think the team responded really well and I think it was important that Nico lifted his hand and said sorry to everyone, and he’s still young as well.
“Everyone accepted it and I think coming here today and scoring a goal, he helped the team and I think going forward today he asked a lot of questions.
“This is the response that we all wanted from him and I hope that we can keep supporting him and giving him the confidence that he needs to score those goals.”
It’s far too easy to point the finger at players for poor displays or poor decisions in games which result in negative consequences.
Obviously it’s not like Pepe turned into a bad player overnight – the talent is there, and he proved it on Thursday night, while his apology also showed responsibility.
Hopefully this will provide the springboard upon which he can truly get his Arsenal career going and become an indispensable member of the team.