Mikel Arteta admitted goalscorer Nicolas Pepe needs to “find his consistency” before earning more starts for Arsenal under his leadership.
Pepe started and scored in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Irish minnows Dundalk at the Emirates on Thursday night, but has featured in a Premier League line-up only once under Arteta this season, playing barely 200 minutes of league football across the Gunners’ six matches to date.
Arteta has repeatedly offered Pepe public encouragement about his potential at the club but speaking to the media following a patchy performance from the Ivory Coast international in their Europa League win, he admitted his consistency would have to improve before he would be certain of more minutes.
“He’s not been first choice in all of the games at the moment but he’s played a lot of moments,” he said. “Some have been better than others.
“It’s about finding the consistency, not through the games but during the games as well to be more incisive, and do the right things on many occasions when he has to make the right decision on the pitch.
“It’s nothing to do with his attitude. He’s a player who takes risks, a very creative player – that’s the most difficult thing in football, when the opposition know what you can do, how much they want to prevent the space, and creating situations from that is complicated.
“But sometimes it’s the simple things, the deliveries, the amount of situations he’s able to create or attract and then make the right decision to keep evolving that phase of play. For example, the finishing, the position inside the box, he has to be more consistent at it. We’re working on it, and hopefully he will be doing it much more efficiently.”
Arteta: We made it look easy
Arteta insisted Arsenal had made life look easy against Dundalk despite registering only six shots on target across the 90 minutes and failing to test Gary Rogers until the 34th minute, with their three goals coming in a four-minute blitz of quality either side of half time.
He said: “I think we made it look easy because we were very disciplined, took it seriously, and at it right from the beginning.
“We’ve seen in other games if you are not 100 per cent what can happen. We made a lot of changes, we gave a lot of opportunity to players who deserve it and I think they performed well.
“We have a large squad and I wanted to give opportunities to everybody, they’ve been patient and trained well. Today they proved they are well prepared when we need them. They made things more difficult for me for selection. I am very pleased for their performance and how they reacted today.”