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Pepe proves Robert Pires wrong after Arsenal performance vs Manchester United

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Nicolas Pepe’s now or never moment has finally arrived. The Ivorian’s position at Arsenal is under threat and the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard have come to challenge him for a place in the team.

 

For two games in a row Pepe has looked more like the player Arsenal expected to sign for £72.5million in the summer of 2019, and perhaps all that was required to get the best out of him was a consistent run of game.

Pepe made the most sprints in the first half and he got the better of Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw on several occasions, drawing a foul from the Englishman and proceeding to laugh at the skill which confused Shaw.

And that’s what he needed. An opportunity to enjoy his football rather than demands for constant positional discipline and tracking back.

Indeed, the 26-year-old’s pressing has been another feature of his game which has clearly been worked on under Mikel Arteta and it’s a facet which the Arsenal manager wants from all of his midfield and forward players.

Comments from Arsenal legend Robert Pires before the game reached the UK and many would have concurred with him if they were judging from the previous months of underwhelming performances in the league.

As for the game itself, Arsenal had just 37 percent possession in the first half, there were seven shots apiece and two each on target. The Gunners didn’t look water-tight at the back but the improvement in confidence is certainly visible when you look at the results over the past month..

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

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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 Arsenal.com.

 

“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

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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

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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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