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Nicolas Pepe: Unai Emery backs Arsenal's record signing to shine after Europa League heroics

Unai Emery believes Nicholas Pepe will now show what he can do after a slow start at Arsenal
Image: Unai Emery believes Nicolas Pepe will now show what he can do after a slow start at Arsenal

Nicolas Pepe has been backed to launch his Arsenal career by head coach Unai Emery after the Ivorian's Europa League heroics.

The £72m club-record signing from Lille, who came off the bench with 15 minutes to go against Vitoria Guimaraes, scored two excellent free-kicks to help Arsenal come from behind to win 3-2.

He scored twice as many goals in Thursday night's cameo than he has in his previous 693 minutes after a slow start to life in London.

Pepe triples his Arsenal goal tally with two free kicks in Arsenal'a 3-2 win over Vitoria Guimaraes
Image: Pepe triples his Arsenal goal tally with two free-kicks in Arsenal's 3-2 win over Vitoria Guimaraes

Emery said: "On the pitch he is feeling better. On Thursday to play 20 minutes, scoring two goals and help us win the game is important for him and for us. Hopefully in training on Saturday and in the game on Sunday he can keep moving ahead.

"He needs to take the confidence from training, he needs to feel comfortable with his team-mates and also feel comfortable living in London with his family.

"We cannot speak too much into the future. We need to focus about the near-future. He has the quality, he has good speed and he is a humble man which is the first important characteristic to improve with us."

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Arsenal opted for Pepe after efforts to sign Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace were rebuffed, the south London club are the visitors to the Emirates this weekend.

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Zaha has yet score in 10 appearances this season after his near-departure from Selhurst Park in the summer, but Emery knows of the threat he poses.

Wilfried Zaha's challenge on Kevin De Bruyne went unpunished
Image: Wilfried Zaha has not scored in 10 appearances this season

He added: "We know we need to stop him and stop them as a team. They work as a team to help make his skills better for them.

"We will prepare for the match and will respect them and their players. We need to work well to stop him."

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