Nicolas Pepe Admits He Has Not Met Expectations At Arsenal Following Europa League Brace

Nicolas Pepe has conceded he has not yet lived up to his billing at Arsenal.

The forward joined the Gunners in a club record £70 million deal from Lille in the summer.

But a number of unconvincing performances have left the club’s fans feeling short changed, until his timely brace in Arsenal’s Europa League win on Thursday.

Pepe struck two late free-kicks, including one in stoppage time, to complete a 3-2 comeback against Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes.

Yet despite his match-winning contribution, the 24-year-old admitted he has not been good enough.

“As soon as I arrived Pierre {Emerick Aubameyang] and Alexandre [Lacazette] helped me,” Pepe said. “I talked a lot to them.

“The manager trusts me. Even if I hadn’t been decisive, I had the manager’s trust. It is always important to have the manager’s faith.

“Of course I knew it would be hard. This is a league totally different to Ligue 1. There is a different intensity.

“I had to adapt quickly because expectations were high. Unfortunately, that is not what I did at the beginning – but I had the manager’s trust and the players have supported me. I keep working hard.”

Arsenal were slipping to a shock defeat at the Emirates after conceding two goals either side of Gabriel Martinelli’s equaliser.

With 10 minutes remaining, Pepe curled in the first of his set-pieces, finding the bottom corner to level.

He then fired in a beauty with just one minute of injury time to play to earn Arsenal the win.

It was only the second match he has scored in for Arsenal, and is still yet to find the net from open play, but he was pleased his Gunners career is going in the right direction.

“The key is to have good people around you,” Pepe added. “I have my family here with me so I could be good mentally when things were not going well.

“I rely a lot on them. It was always going to be difficult to come here to the unknown, with a different language.

“I am not at my best physically because I didn’t have a proper pre-season. I was at the African Cup of Nations. I am trying to work hard to be stronger physically.”

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