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Arsene Wenger has delivered his verdict on Nicolas Pepe’s indifferent start to his career at Arsenal.
The £72m summer acquisition has only scored one goal this season since arriving in north London.
That solitary strike came from the penalty spot against Aston Villa, meaning the Ivory Coast international is yet to find the net from open play.
The former Lille winger is still trying to adapt to the Premier League but after tallying only two assists in eight appearances, some fans have been underwhelmed by his contribution at the start of the season.
However, Wenger believes that Unai Emery’s side have signed the right fit for their team and believes Pepe just needs time to adapt to his new surroundings which will help him play with more confidence and freedom.
“I like the player and I thought it was a good decision [to sign him],” the Arsenal legend said. “He’s not yet completely adapted and you have to give him some time.
“He looks a little bit to be playing not with the freedom he did in France at the moment.
“I see some characteristics of his game, especially off the ball, that don’t happen at the moment.
“On the other hand, I must say we have good young players who can play on the flanks, [and] that he will have a fight to keep his position.”
Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka, have both established themselves as first-team regulars this season.
In the case of the latter, Saka has really caught the eye and despite being just 18 he has started the last three league games.
However, with Alexandre Lacazette to return to first-team action after the international break, it seems a straight shoot-out between Saka and Pepe for a spot in Arsenal’s dynamic front three.
Then there’s Gabriel Martinelli who has also caught the eye with four goals from two starts.