Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg slams Nicolas Pepe after Leeds United red card

Leeds United v Arsenal - Premier League
Nicolas Pepe was needlessly sent off for Arsenal against Leeds (Picture: Getty Images)

Freddie Ljungberg admits that Nicolas Pepe’s behaviour was ‘very disappointing’ as the Frenchman was shown a straight red card in Arsenal’s goalless draw with Leeds United on Sunday.

Pepe was given his marching orders just 51 minutes into the match at Elland Road after he headbutted Ezgjan Alioski off the ball, needlessly overreacting to a coming together between the two.

Alioski certainly made the most of it, going down clutching his face, but Pepe moved his head into his opponent’s and a red card was the only possible outcome.

The Gunners held on for a goalless draw, with Leeds spurning numerous chances, before and after the sending off, with Arsenal looking pretty ineffective throughout.

Ljungberg was critical of Pepe after the match, saying it was a chance to shine for the £72m signing from Lille and one that he has tossed away.

‘He can’t have any complaints. The Leeds player wasn’t in pain but the rules are the rules,’ the Swede told Sky Sports.

‘It’s very disappointing because he hasn’t played too much and had an opportunity today. He stops his own progress with his behaviour.

‘I thought this game would be good for Pepe. I thought he would be a match-winner but instead it ends up like this.’

It was just Pepe’s second Premier League start of the season and probably his last for some time after the ridiculous lack of discipline.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta was left fuming with the winger, saying his behaviour was ‘unacceptable’ and he has let him know as much.

‘Well considering how early we got Pepe sent off we have to take it. I never like a draw but considering the circumstances, it’s a point,’ Arteta told Sky Sports.

Asked if there was any excuse for what Pepe did, Arteta responded: ‘No, it’s unacceptable.’

Pushed further on whether he had spoken to Pepe, he said: ‘Yes. [I told him] it’s unacceptable.’

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