MARTIN KEOWN:  Nicolas Pepe blew his chance to launch his campaign

MARTIN KEOWN: Nicolas Pepe had the chance to launch his campaign with Arsenal but instead he let his side down with unprofessional behaviour

  • Nicolas Pepe was sent off for a clear headbutt in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Leeds 
  • The Ivorian winger leant his head into Ezgjan Alioski in an off-the-ball incident 
  • Pepe will now miss Arsenal’s next three games including the derby with Spurs

This was only Nicolas Pepe’s second Premier League start of the season despite arriving with that £72million price tag in the summer of 2019.

Arsenal’s club-record signing could have used this opportunity to launch his campaign.

Instead, his unprofessional behaviour put his team under pressure and, in the end, manager Mikel Arteta had to be satisfied with earning an away point with 10 men.

Nicolas Pepe was sent off for a clear headbutt during Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Leeds on Sunday

This is a team that are rebuilding under Arteta. I was impressed with some of the fighting spirit on show.

The way Kieran Tierney was trying to have a word with Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski at full-time — the player he saw as the protagonist in Pepe’s sending off — showed impressive fighting spirit.

Tierney typified that spirit in the game itself, too. He’s not just at the back trying to keep a clean sheet. He bombs forward and puts in those extra yards for his team.

The Ivorian leant his head into Leeds midfielder Ezgjan Alioski in an off-the-ball incident

Referee Anthony Taylor did not hesitate to brandish the red card after reviewing the incident 

Tierney might have felt incensed to see Granit Xhaka with his arm around Alioski at the end of the game after what had happened.

I would have certainly felt like that if I’d seen one of my team-mates practically fraternising with the enemy.

Xhaka then pushed Tierney away from the situation when he tried to confront Alioski. 

But the dust will settle from that incident. Tierney is just the type of personality Arsenal need in their team.




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