Arteta’s private meeting with Pepe set to produce instant decision

Mikel Arteta is set to give Nicolas Pepe a chance to immediately move on from his red card at Leeds United by giving him a start in the Europa League clash at Molde on Thursday.

Pepe was dismissed in the seventh minute of the second half in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Elland Road when he thrust his head in the direction of Leeds’ Ezgjan Alioski.

The dismissal has led to further criticism of the £72million club record signing, who has often flattered to deceive since joining the club from Lille last summer.

Arteta was highly critical of Pepe at full-time, telling Sky Sports that his actions let his team down in the goalless draw.

“Considering how early we got Pepe sent off we have to take it [the draw],” said Arteta.

Pepe was sent off for a headbutt in the second half

“I never like a draw but in the circumstances it’s a point. It [the red card] is unacceptable.

“With 10 men it is a big disadvantage. I really liked the personality of the team when Pepe let the team down, how we stuck to do what we had to do and had a moment or two to win the game, but obviously it makes it really difficult.”

Yet with Arsenal on the cusp of qualification from their Europa League group and facing a hectic Premier League period, Arteta is set to use Pepe in the forthcoming European matches as he serves his domestic suspension.

Arteta has been holding talks with the Ivorian

Pepe will miss the Premier League matches against Wolves, Tottenham and Burnley over the next three weekends, but he will be available for the games against Molde, Rapid Vienna and Dundalk on the forthcoming Thursday nights.

The Times report that the Gunners boss won’t fine the Ivorian for his indiscretion, and also won’t drop him from the first-team squad entirely as he did with Matteo Guendouzi last season.

Willian has also faced the wrath of Arteta after he made a recent trip to Dubai, while Mesut Ozil remains cast out by the club.

Guendouzi was dropped by Arteta after an incident at Brighton

Pepe is far from out of the woods though, with Arteta still said to hold deep concerns about his performances, with his inconsistencies apparent since joining the club last summer.

The 24-year-old apologised for his red card on social media on Monday, writing: “I let my team down at a crucial time of the game and there are no excuses for my behaviour.

“I am deeply sorry and would like to apologise to the fans, my teammates, my coach and everyone else at the club.”

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