Nicolas Pepe has been warned his spell of recent good form will count for nothing when it comes to selection if he is unable to keep it up in the weeks to come.
The £72million winger is finally putting in the displays Arsenal have been expecting of him since his transfer in the summer of 2019.
Much of his upturn in performance has been due to Mikel Arteta’s decision to switch Pepe to the left flank, which has so far paid dividends.
But with Gunners captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang available for action again, Arteta has stressed Pepe’s form cannot just be a flash in the pan.
“Even when we made decisions not to play him, he kept working hard,” Arteta said of Pepe. “He has improved in a lot of areas and has been much more consistent for 90 minutes.
“He’s a threat at the moment because he’s been scoring goals, he’s been assisting players, he’s been a real threat. He needs to continue doing that.”
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With Aubameyang now back though, Pepe faces a battle for his place.
The Arsenal skipper scored twice on his last start before taking a break to visit his mother in another country after she had been struck down by illness.
Aubameyang then had to self-isolate on his return to the UK, but came off the bench on Wednesday for Pepe after an hour.
Should Pepe keep his place for Saturday’s match vs Aston Villa? Have your say below.
Asked if he would put Aubameyang straight back in the side, Arteta replied: “At the end of the day, we have to play the players who are in the best form and everybody has to earn the right to play and participate in the games.
“That’s what everybody’s doing, pushing each other to raise the level.
“You can see that the level has been raised because everybody is playing at their best. there’s still room for improvement so everybody has to keep pushing.”