EPL: Mikel Arteta names AFCON star to help Arsenal finish top four in Premier League
Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta has said that Ivorian Africa Cup of Nations star, Nicolas Pepe will help the north London side finish within the Premier League top four clubs this season.
He hailed the winger for returning from the AFCON a ‘different player’ adding that the player can have a key role to play in the Gunners top-four charge.
Pepe enjoyed a superb end to the 2020-21 season, scoring six times in six games but has not found top form in the current season.
He has scored just two goals for the Gunners this season but enjoyed a bright campaign for Ivory Coast in last month’s AFCON, scoring twice in four games.
Arsenal is currently in sixth place, four points behind fourth-place Manchester United but has three games in hand to close the gap.
“Since he has come back from AFCON I think I have seen a different Nico as well,” Arteta said during his press conference on Friday.
“I don’t know what it is, probably he has realised the importance of the end of the season for him. He had a brilliant end of the season last year. He can replicate that.
“I don’t want to have a player like him sitting on the bench and not using him and the moment I have chances, I want to give him a chance.
Arsenal welcomes Brentford at the Emirates on Saturday.
Pepe and his Ivorian teammates crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the round of sixteen, losing 5-4 in the penalty shootout to Egypt.
Another Premier League star, Eric Bailly missed his spot-kick to send them packing out of the tournament in Cameroon, killing their hopes of winning a third AFCON championship.
It was a disappointing 5-4 defeat for the Elephants against Egypt with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah scoring the decider.
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