Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has waxed lyrical about Nicolas Pepe following his goalscoring appearance off the bench in Thursday night’s Europa League game.
The 25-year-old was one of the positives from a frustrating night at the Emirates Stadium, which saw the Gunners held to a 1-1 draw by Slavia Prague in their quarter-final second leg.
Pepe was put through on goal by fellow substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, keeping his cool to dink the ball past the advancing Ondrej Kolar in the 86th minute.
However, Arsenal were caught out in injury time as Slavia equalised through Tomas Holes, who sent a diving header beyond the grasp of Bernd Leno.
Despite the frustrating performance and result by the team, Arteta was pleased with Pepe’s impact off the bench.
“He has been really effective when he has come on as a sub, and we started as well against Liverpool and now he needs to be at that consistent level,” he told the Arsenal media team.
“We know that he is a threat, he has more goals than any other winger that we have and that’s a big plus for us.”
Pepe has had his fair share of ups and downs during his time at the Emirates thus far, but he is certainly capable of delivering important goal contributions, as he showed on Thursday.
He’s arguably been unlucky at times in that he needs more consistent game time rather than playing well then getting dropped – hopefully he’ll finish the season with a run of starts.