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Nicolas Pepe was still waiting for his debut when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored Arsenal’s winner against Newcastle, but that didn’t stop him celebrating the strike with his new team-mates.
The 24-year-old forward – who Arsenal signed from Lille for a club-record fee of £72million in the summer – started among the substitutes at St James’ Park, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson supporting Aubameyang in attack.
Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game, latching onto Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ pinpoint cross from the right flank before expertly dinking the ball over Martin Dubravka in the 58th minute.
Unai Emery brought Pepe on for Reiss Nelson in the 71st minute and the Ivorian helped Arsenal hold on for a 1-0 victory and their first three points of the Premier League season.
Pepe may not have known too much about Maitland-Niles before joining Arsenal, but he certainly will do now.
The young right-back was named man of the match against Steve Bruce’s side and clearly won over a new admirer in Pepe on Sunday afternoon.
They shared a lovely moment shortly after Maitland-Niles’ exquisite assist for Aubameyang.
After Maitland-Niles’ impressive display against Newcastle, Emery challenged the youngster to show greater consistency for Arsenal. ‘He played very seriously,’ the Spaniard said.
‘He’s improving, he can do more and we are speaking with him every day, watching movies with him every day, individually and collectively.
‘Today, really, really I say to him congratulations but your challenge is to be consistent today, tomorrow and the next week.’
Pepe could be in line for his full debut when Arsenal host Burnley this weekend and Aubameyang is excited to play alongside his new team-mate.
‘I don’t want to compare it [to other strike partnerships I been in] but it is going to be crazy,’ the Gabonese forward said. ‘Everybody is excited about that.
We will have time to play together and we will see. I am looking forward to it. ‘The next game we play at home [against Burnley] and we will see what is the coach’s decision.
‘It will be difficult for him [Emery] but that’s the game. When you have a good team it is like that and you have to make choices.’