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Arsenal's Pepe finally justifies price tag

October 25, 2019 09:36 IST

'Every player needs that moment, that turning point ... to settle and hopefully now Arsenal can see what they paid for... 72 million pounds was seeming expensive until tonight'

Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe scores his team's second goal during their UEFA Europa League Group F match against Vitoria Guimaraes at Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday

IMAGE: Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe scores his team's second goal during their UEFA Europa League Group F match against Vitoria Guimaraes at Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe will start to show fans why the club made him their record signing after the Ivorian forward scored two late goals in Thursday's 3-2 Europa League win over Vitoria, former defender Martin Keown said.

Pepe joined the Premier League side from Lille in the close season for a club-record fee that British media reported was around 72 million pounds ($92.45 million), but the 24-year-old had managed only one goal in 11 appearances before Thursday.

 

Unai Emery's side were heading for a defeat three days after losing to Sheffield United in the Premier League but substitute Pepe struck two sublime free-kicks, including one in added time, to help the Gunners top Group F with a maximum nine points.

"Every player needs that moment, that turning point ... to settle and hopefully now Arsenal can see what they paid for... 72 million pounds was seeming expensive until tonight," Keown told BT Sport.

"But this is just the start hopefully and how he takes it forward, he runs with freedom, he can express himself.

"I think, basically, he's kind of got that off his back now, that pressure, and he can release himself now and play."

Former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie said that he saw a totally different player after Pepe's first goal in the 80th minute and backed him to build on the good display.

"This is his day, this is his moment... I'm really happy for him. You can see what it does for him, even after the first freekick," Van Persie said.

"You could see he just became lively and happy, and he was making all sorts of movements and skills. Then it's great for him to score the winner as well.

"The price tag doesn't really matter... You need a moment to show everyone, the Arsenal fans, 'here I am'... I'm pretty sure that after tonight you will see a different Pepe to the last couple of months."

Emery dodges questions on Ozil's Arsenal future

After securing a 3-2 win over Vitoria SC, Arsenal manager Unai Emery dodged questions regarding Mesut Ozil's future at the club saying that he will only prefer to talk about 'players that played'.

Ozil was a notable absentee during Arsenal's Europa League clash against Vitoria SC on Friday. Moreover, in this term, Ozil has featured for the club only two times.

"I think tonight is not the time to speak about that. I prefer to speak about the match and about the players that played," Goal.com quoted Emery as saying.

Nicolas Pepe scored twice in the match while Gabriel Martinelli scored one goal to help Arsenal thrash Vitoria SC.

Emery also said that they will now work for their next clash which is against Crystal Palace in Premier League on October 27.

"He (Ozil) wasn't in the squad and that was the decision and we will now work for Sunday," he said.

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