Arsenal legend sets Nicolas Pepe challenge after repaying Mikel Arteta’s faith

Former Arsenal star Ray Parlour has challenged Nicolas Pepe to be braver on the ball and improve his consistency levels.

Pepe was sent off for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski during the Gunners’ goalless draw with Leeds United in the Premier League last weekend.

Manager Mikel Arteta accused the Ivory Coast international of letting his team-mates down – but gave him another chance in Thursday night’s Europa League group fixture away to Molde.

Pepe responded by opening the scoring as Arsenal won 3-0 in Norway to book their place in the last 32 of the competition.

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The club record signing has been battling to make his mark since arriving from Lille in a £72million deal in 2019.

He has now netted three times in four Europa League outings this term – and Parlour wants to see more from the 25-year-old.

“He (Pepe) was much better last night, I must admit,” Parlour told talkSPORT. “He’s better when he runs at players, commits players.

“He takes the easy option usually, in the Premier League – run at full-backs, you know, make them commit.

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“He’s good when he gets on his left foot, he’s got a good strike on him, and you can see him taking corners.

“The reason why he scored on the right-hand side is that cuts inside and can shoot on his left foot.

“We always had left wingers who were right footed – we had (Robert) Pires who was right footed, we had (Marc) Overmars, who would cut inside and score you 18, 20 goals a season.”

Parlour added: “It’s alright doing it against smaller sides – not disrespecting Molde – but you’ve got to do it against the big sides.

“You’ve got to make that impact that he made last night against your Leeds Uniteds and the teams in the Premier League.

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