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The Ivory Coast international has earned the praises of his boss following his impressive performances for the Gunners this season

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has classified Nicolas Pepe’s work rate as “phenomenal” after he delivered another stand-out performance for his side in the Europa League.

The winger scored a penalty in the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Villarreal in the first leg semi-final of the European competition on Thursday.

After the Spanish side raced into the lead through Manuel Trigueros and Raul Albiol strikes, the Ivory Coast international then scored a 73rd-minute penalty for Arsenal.

The 25-year-old, thus, took his tally to 11 goals in 42 games across all competitions this season, and Arteta is impressed with the contribution of the forward.

“I think he’s come a long way in the last few months. His work ethic has been phenomenal,” Arteta said in a pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Newcastle United.

“He’s deciding many more games and doing what he can do in the final third in a much more consistent way. So I’m really happy with his performances and now he needs to continue like this.

“Well, confidence in every player is crucial and every time you step on that field, if they feel secure if they feel protected if they feel like they’re supported by their manager and their teammates.

“It’s something that is crucial to be able to perform. Then with the things that he could do better, he’s doing much better with as well. But it’s all a mix that is reflected in his performance.”

Pepe teamed up with Arsenal in a club-record fee of £72 million in the summer of 2019 from French side Lille but struggled to adapt to the Premier League.

As a result, the Ivory Coast forward was subjected to intense criticism with many querying his big-money move to the Emirates Stadium.

Pepe is gradually settling in at the club and besides his goals, he has provided five assists this season, helping the Gunners to their current 10th place on the Premier League table and inspiring them to the semi-finals of the Europa League.

The winger started his senior career with Poitiers and also starred for Angers and Lille, where his eye-catching performances for the Mastiffs led to the Gunners secure his services.

Pepe will hope to continue his impressive performances when Arsenal take on Newcastle United in their next league game on May 2.

The forward remains a key member of the Ivory Coast national team and has 25 caps for the West African side.



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