After weeks of calling for Nicolas Pepe to get the chance to start in the Premier League, you could understand why so many Arsenal fans felt let down by his actions at the weekend.
Mikel Arteta handed him a chance at Leeds on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Ivory Coast international’s afternoon ended after just 51 minutes after he was sent off following a clash with Gjanni Alioski.
The dust is starting to settle. And some of the frustration seems to be gradually turning into disappointment.
Pepe – who earns £100,000-a-week, according to Spotrac – has struggled to live up to expectations at the Emirates. And his self-inflicted setback only makes it harder to see the 25-year-old silencing his doubters in the future.
For now, he is suspended for the next three Premier League games. And that is arguably one of the key reasons why Arteta is making the right decision ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Molde in the Europa League on Thursday.
According to the Daily Mirror, Pepe will start the game.
The Europa League will allow the forward to remain sharp while suspended. And his inclusion should lighten the workload on those who will feature in the top flight.
That is arguably particularly important after Arsenal lost Willian and Bukayo Saka to injury at the weekend.
But starting Pepe could also be extremely beneficial for the group of Arsenal youngsters thinking that the Europa League offers their best chance to feature for the first-team.
The Gunners are on the cusp of qualifying for the knockout stages with three matches remaining. A win on Thursday will see them through.
Should they wrap qualification up, Arteta will surely be more inclined to play the likes of Miguel Azeez, Emile Smith Rowe and Folarin Balogun.
Picking Pepe on Thursday obviously increases the likelihood of Arsenal picking up the win they need.
He has two goals and two assists in this competition this season.
Pepe, of course, has a major point to prove after the weekend. So Arteta handing him an immediate start looks to be incredibly smart from the Arsenal boss.