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Mikel Arteta considers replacing in-form Nicolas Pepe with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang



Mikel Arteta has praised the renewed worth ethic of the resurgent Nicolas Pepe but has told Arsenal’s record signing only a continuation of the hard work he has shown in recent weeks will see him keep his place, particularly with skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang available for selection again.

The Ivory Coast international has struggled to cope with the burden placed on his shoulders following Arsenal decision to spend £72million on him when they recruited him from Lille 18 months ago. Pepe has played the majority of his Arsenal career on the right wing, utilising his ability to cut in and use his natural left foot to devastating effect. That tactic, however, has led to the 25-year-old becoming a predictable opponent for opposition defenders and his upturn in form has coincided with Arteta opting to deploy him on the opposite flank.

The 25-year-old scored for the third successive away game in the Premier League during Tuesday’s defeat against Wolves, bambloozing two defenders before supplying a devastating finish with his right foot. That position on the left flank has been made his own by Aubameyang during Arteta’s tenure, and with the club captain in contention to start against Aston Villa on Saturday, having returned as a substitute at Molineux in place of Pepe, the Arsenal boss has a big decision to make.

Nicholas Pepe was replaced by Aubamayeng during Arsenal’s defeat to Wolves

Aubameyang missed three games in all competitions recently, observing Covid-19 protocols after he was given permission to tend to a private family matter, which he subsequently revealed involved tending to his sick mother. With Alexandre Lacazette also enjoying his best run of form in over a year, Arteta has plenty of options up his sleeve for the trip to Villa Park but insists Pepe cannot afford to let his standards drop if he hopes to remain an integral part of his immediate plans.

He said: ‘Even when we made decisions not to play him, he kept working hard. 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.

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.’

Pepe in Action

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Mikel Arteta demands answers over ‘obvious’ penalty Arsenal were denied in Burnley draw



Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was left fuming following his side’s 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor because of the ‘obvious and clear’ penalty the Spaniard thought the Gunners should have been awarded.


It was a passage of play that saw Nicolas Pepe take on the Burnley left-back Erik Pieters, whose arm appeared to meet the ball and block it. The incident wasn’t flagged up by VAR and the game continued.



Pieters was later penalised for a separate incident when he blocked a goal-bound shot from Pepe, which deflected onto the crossbar and clear. Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and brandished a red card, but VAR intervened when replays showed it had struck his shoulder.


The latter incident was a perfect example of how VAR should work, but Arteta was perplexed as to why the first incident wasn’t ruled a penalty, which could have given Arsenal the win.


“I think it’s obvious and clear, I think there is no debate about that. If that is not a penalty, then would someone explain what a penalty is in this league,” he said, via


“We created, but we didn’t score enough. We gave a goal to the opponent and then don’t get the decision that we should get. It then becomes very difficult to win the game.”


Having taken the lead early through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the goal that Arsenal gave away was avoidable and the result of Granit Xhaka trying to play a pass that had been closed off by Burnley forward Chris Wood, who blocked it and diverted the ball into the goal.


Arteta defended Xhaka’s decision making in that instance, insisting that possession-based football from the back is still how he wants his team to play, despite the risks involved.


“It is what it is, it’s the way that we play and the way that I want to play,” the boss explained.


“We just have to know the risk and the rules that we have in certain areas in terms of the type of balls we have to play. But it is what it is.”



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English FA explains why Arsenal were denied penalty against Burnley



The Premier League has claimed that Arsenal were denied a penalty against Burnley because Erik Pieters was in ‘close proximity’ to Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners were forced to settle for a point at Turf Moor after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener was cancelled out by Chris Wood, who benefitted from a huge mistake by Granit Xhaka.

However, Arsenal felt aggrieved in the 75th minute when Pepe’s touch inside Burnley’s box led the ball to hit Pieters’ outstretched arm, but Mikel Arteta’s side were not awarded a penalty following a VAR review.

Earlier this week, Fulham were involved in a similar incident as Mario Lemina was penalised for handball in the build-up to their disallowed goal against Tottenham.

But in a statement after the game, the Premier League clarified why Arsenal were not given the decision.

‘The ball has hit him from close proximity and he’s had no time to react,’ said the statement. ‘It wasn’t given on-field and the VAR didn’t think it was a clear error.’


Arteta, meanwhile, was left in no doubt that his side should have been awarded a penalty. ‘Absolutely,’ the Arsenal manager said after the game.

 ‘I think it is obvious and clear. I think there is no debate about that. ‘If that’s not a penalty, then someone will explain what a penalty is in this league.’




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Just In: Xhaka apologizes to Arsenal Fans for his costly mistake against Burnley



Granit Xhaka is full of remorse for his horrendous display that led to Burnley goal, that cost Arsenal 2 points today.

He has come to apologize to Arsenal fans via his Official Facebook  Page:

It’s class from him.


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