Mikel Arteta claims Nicolas Pepe is making “a lot of progress” at Arsenal thanks to a noticeable change to the way he approaches training sessions.
Pepe has shown signs of promise this season after initially struggling to live up to the £72million fee the Gunners paid to prise him from Lille in 2019.
The Ivorian shone in the Europa League group stage, picking up three goals and three assists, and has scored twice in his last four Premier League appearances.
Pepe’s hard work at Arsenal’s London Colney base has caught Arteta’s eye and the Gunners boss says the 25-year-old is reaping the rewards of his renewed impetus in training.
“The fact that we have the Europa League gave the opportunity to almost everyone in the squad to be fit and available and compete for their place,” said Arteta.
“[Pepe] has had some really good matches and scored some important goals as well and I think that has helped him for the Premier League form and the recent form that he’s shown.
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“I’ve seen a lot of things, in his mentality, the way he approaches every training session, in his understanding of the game as well.
“It’s true that he has patches where he’s played more than at other times. He has had the opportunity over the last couple of months that probably every player has been seeking to have but I think overall there is a lot of progress with Nico.”
Pepe will hope to rekindle his fine form in the Europa League as Arsenal face Benfica at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Thursday night.
The Ivory Coast international was an unused substitute for the Gunners’ 4-2 victory over Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday, so comes into the last-32 tie with the Portuguese club well-rested.
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