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Mikel Arteta happy to give Nicolas Pepe a chance to atone for dismissal

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Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will hand Nicolas Pepe the chance for a swift redemption in the Europa League tie at Molde tonight.

Ivory Coast forward Pepe is facing up to a three-match domestic ban following a red card against Leeds, appearing to headbutt Ezgjan Alioski.

The Gunners boss branded Pepe's behaviour "unacceptable" following Sunday's goalless draw at Elland Road.

Arteta, though, rejected suggestions the 25-year-old - a £72m signing from Lille during August 2019 - would be frozen out of his plans.

"We have all had disappointing reactions in our playing careers," the Arsenal manager said ahead of the Europa League tie in Norway, where his team could secure qualification for the knockout stage.

"We were frustrated because when you play against a team like Leeds for a long time with 10 men, it makes a huge difference.

"He had a really good reaction, the way he apologised, the way he understood his responsibility, and hopefully tomorrow we can see the player that we want to see, and have a good reaction to help his team."

Arteta added: "No, it is absolutely not (the end of his Arsenal career after the red card). It's not about that and I don't like that type of statement. I will give Nico my full support all the time. He knows where he has to improve and we all know his qualities.

"He has some responsibility, I have a lot of responsibility, which is to get the best out of him and get the best position for him, the best areas where he can do what he can do with the ball.

"I cannot fault his effort at all. You see the way he strives for the team, the way he's working, it's been the best since he's been at the club.

"But there have been some aspects he can do better in because he has the ability. That's where I'm going to put the pressure on him to deliver what he can do.

"To say it's a threat for him to finish his (Arsenal) career, it is not at all like that."

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Belfast Telegraph


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