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Arteta makes encouraging Pepe claim ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Aston Villa

Nicolas Pepe’s performance against Wolves was his best in an Arsenal shirt and the winger is only growing in stature at the Emirates.

That’s the view of Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, who is delighted with the progress the club’s record signing is making.

Arsenal paid £72million to prise Pepe from Lille in the summer of 2019 but the Ivorian struggled to replicate his Ligue 1 form during his first campaign in the Premier League.

This season began in similar frustrating fashion for the 25-year-old, who scored one goal in seven games before he was shown a straight red card for an act of petulance against Leeds in November.

Pepe is showing signs of living up to his hefty price tag at Arsenal

There have been recent signs Pepe is hitting form, however, as he has three goals in his last four league starts and impressed despite the Gunners losing 2-1 to Wolves last time out.

Arteta claimed Pepe’s showing at Molineux was his best since his big-money move to the Emirates as he previewed Arsenal’s trip to Aston Villa for Saturday’s lunchtime game.

The Gunners boss is pleased with the progress the Ivorian is making
The Gunners boss is pleased with the progress the Ivorian is making

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“If you ask me personally what I think of the performance that he put in overall, in all the phases of the game, I’d say it is the best he has played,” Arteta told reporters.

“But he needs guidance. And he needs clarity in what he needs to do.

“And then he needs the discipline on the pitch to do what he needs to do.

“Obviously he needs the freedom in certain moments to express himself as a player.”

Pepe has primarily featured in his natural right-winger role this season but Arteta has also used him in attacking midfield or on the left flank.

His tally for the season in all competitions stands at seven goals and three assists in 26 appearances, 17 of which were starts.

Is Nicolas Pepe living up to his hefty price tag at Arsenal? Have your say in the comments.

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