Nicolas Pepe has struggled in the premier league, no doubt about that but fans need to remain patient as the adjustment process continues. However, his brace of stunning free kicks announced his class and talent in the cheeky 3-2 win over Vitoria at the Emirates.
Pepe, weighed heavy with expectation and a hefty price tag, has so far been one step behind every cross or has just failed to steady and connect on a sitter.
As a result, football fans were quick to judge and mock the Frenchman but I recall another player that struggled on his arrival and although social media was in its infancy, the conversation in the stadium and in the pubs was that Wenger had wasted his money. That player was Thierry Henry, so just bare that in mind when making these early assessments.
Pepe’s free kicks suggest there is plenty more to come once the player settles and Arsenal could have a very special player for a fairly standard price.
Arsenal were 1-2 down to Vitoria and the opposition had made it look easy against a fairly average Arsenal lacking creativity. Edwards (8)and Duarte(36) were the bread and Martinelli (32) in reply, was the filling but it needed someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, enter Pepe.
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The Ivory Coast international replaced Lacazette in the 75th minute and was soon in the action when Arsenal were awarded a free kick (80) over to the right and around 25 yards out.
You felt Pepe might, his pedigree was such and somehow, instinctively you knew this was his moment. A precision left foot curler that gave the keeper absolutely no chance and saw the defenders in the wall watch it glide in to the bottom corner.
There was more to come and the second FK (90) was even better. It had power, swerve and curve and as it stretched the net, Pepe poked thousands of neutral supporters in the eye that had been claiming him a waste of money.
Guendouzi had set of on one of his trademark Fabregas type runs and was ruthlessly hacked down, sending his curls in several directions at once. Pepe stepped up and this time, same corner but the top of the net.
On reflection, Vitoria will feel hard done by and sometimes the scoreline doesn’t reflect the effort or quality of the losing side but seriously, who cares. Pepe got two vital goals which may help him on his way in the premier league.
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