Mikel Arteta tells Nicolas Pepe how to secure starting spot after starring in Arsenal win over Sheffield United

Nicolas Pepe scored in Arsenal's 2-1 win over Sheffield United
Nicolas Pepe scored in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta hailed the performance of Nicolas Pepe after the Ivory Coast star scored the decisive goal in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

The Gunners struggled to break down Chris Wilder’s obdurate side during a dour first half, but effectively sealed three points with two goals in the space of three minutes just past the hour mark.

Bukayo Saka capped his perfect week, with the England newboy heading home at the far post after smart approach play involving Mohamed Elneny, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin.

Pepe doubled Arsenal’s advantage moments later, latching onto a pass from Bellerin, outpacing his marker and showing superb composure to beat Aaron Ramsdale with a precise low shot that went in off the inside of the far post.

The 25-year-old has struggled to justify his £72million transfer fee following his move last summer and is yet to start a Premier League match this season.

Hector Bellerin registered two assists in Arsenal's 2-1 win over Sheffield United
Hector Bellerin registered two assists in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United (Picture: Getty)

After an impressive second half cameo as a substitute against the Blades, however, Arteta is sure Pepe will have a major impact this term but warned he must add consistency to his game if he is to secure a regular starting berth.

‘I am really happy, first of all for him and also for the contribution he made to the team,’ he said.

‘When this type of player is not playing, obviously they are not happy but I demanded them on matchday to be completely focused and determined to make the impact when they have the chance to play, and that is exactly what he has done.

‘I think it is another step forward for him, he is capable of doing that but he needs to do it with consistency.

‘This is the demand we are going to put on him but I am delighted that he has done it and he helped the team a lot today to get the points.’

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