Martin Keown identifies Mikel Arteta’s ‘nice problem’ after Nicolas Pepe goal against Wolves

Nicolas Pepe celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Wolves in the Premier League
Nicolas Pepe broke the deadlock for Arsenal at Wolves (Picture: Getty)

Martin Keown hailed Nicolas Pepe after his solo effort in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves and suggested the forward had given Mikel Arteta a ‘nice problem’ with his performances in recent games.

Goals from Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho secured all three points for Wolves as Arsenal imploded after Pepe’s opener, with David Luiz and Bernd Leno both sent off on a strange night at Molineux.

The Gunners were well on top in the opening stages of the Premier League clash and the returning Bukayo Saka saw a goal disallowed by VAR before Pepe hit the crossbar with a powerful strike.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal - Premier League
Neves equalised on the stroke of half-time after Luiz was shown a red card (Picture: Getty)

Arteta’s men then had a penalty shout turned down but Pepe – starting his fourth match on the bounce in all competitions – made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute as he jinked his way past Nelson Semedo and Ruben Neves before finding the back of the net with an exquisite finish.

And while the visitors looked set to go into the break with the lead, David Luiz was sent off for bringing down Willian Jose inside the box and Neves made no mistake with the resulting penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Moutinho’s thunderous long-range strike gave Wolves the lead for the first time in the 49th minute before Leno was sent off for handling outside the box in a moment of madness – and the hosts held on to secure victory.

On Pepe’s opener, ex-Arsenal defender Keown – commentating on the game for BT Sport – said: ‘It sometimes takes time for players to settle into the Premier League.

‘In the second season you expect more and he’s been a slow burner, certainly but now we’re seeing a little bit of form.’

Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg
Keown believes Arsenal have plenty of options down the left flank (Picture: Getty)

Pepe has struggled to live up to his £72million club-record price tag since arriving from Lille back in 2019 but Keown believes the Ivorian is giving his manager a selection dilemma with his recent performances.

On Pepe’s form being a ‘nice problem’ for Arteta, Keown replied: ‘It certainly is because [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang can play out on that left-hand side.

‘Gabriel Martinelli has also come back from injury so there’s some good options now for Arteta.’

David Luiz shown a red card during Arsenal's Premier League clash with Wolves
Luiz was given his marching orders at the end of the first half (Picture: Getty)

During his half-time analysis, Rio Ferdinand claimed Pepe had rediscovered his ‘swagger’ and was beginning to display the form he previously showed at Lille which convinced Arsenal to spend so heavily on him.

‘Pepe has got his swagger back,’ the former Manchester United and England centre-back said.

‘We have mentioned the press being so successful for this Arsenal team coming into this game.

‘Here they saw it, they smelt it and they went in and win the ball, Pepe himself wins it first and then it’s about him from here.

‘He puts it through [Nelson] Semedo’s legs, a bit of luck and a bit of trickery, shuffles his way through and this finish is just sublime. What a finish off his right foot.

‘He’s starting to show glimpses of why they invested so heavily in him.’

Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

MORE : Mesut Ozil speaks out after Fenerbahce debut and singles out Altay Bayindir for praise

MORE : Rob Holding pays tribute to Shkodran Mustafi after Arsenal exit

No comments