Mikel Arteta responds to claim Nicolas Pepe’s Arsenal career could be over after red card
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Mikel Arteta insists Nicolas Pepe has his "full support" and rubbished claims the winger's career at Arsenal is over after his recent sending off.
Pepe was given his marching orders 51 minutes into the Gunners' clash at Leeds on Sunday after headbutting Ezgjan Alioski during a heated on-pitch exchange.
Arsenal held on for a point at Elland Road but Arteta was furious after the final whistle, branding Pep's actions "unacceptable".
This gave rise to speculation the Ivorian's career in north London could be all but over, as Arteta has shown he has a ruthless streak when it comes to acts of petulance in the past.
Arteta insists Pepe will not be banished from the Arsenal squad
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
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The Gunners boss banished Matteo Guendouzi from first-team training last season after the midfielder clashed with Brighton's Neal Maupay during a 2-1 defeat at the Amex.
Guendouzi has not featured for the Gunners since the incident in June and was loaned out to Hertha Berlin this season.
Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil has not featured in over eight months and has been left out of Arsenal's Premier League and Europa League squads to see out the remainder of his £350,000-per-week deal.
The 25-year-old was sent off after clashing with Alioski
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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But Arteta has played down speculation that Pepe's career will follow a similar trajectory, while he also confirmed the player has added to his public apology with a private one.
Asked if Pepe's time at the Emirates is over, Arteta said: "Absolutely not. I will give Nico my full support all the time…. the threat to finish his career, it is not at all like that."
"He knows the things he has to improve. I have a lot of responsibility to get the best out of him… I cannot fault at all his effort."
Guendouzi was exiled from first-team training after clashing with Maupay
Should Mikel Arteta punish Nicolas Pepe for his show of petulance against Leeds? Have your say here.
Pepe failed to make good on rare start in the Premier League and now faces a three-match ban in the competition.
But he is available for Thursday's Europa League tie with Molde, while Arteta insists the 25-year-old is still adapting to his new surroundings after his £72million transfer from Lille last year.
The Gunners boss added: "He needs to feel that myself and club are going to protect him.
"We're giving him time and he needed some time to adapt to the Premier League, a new city, a new language and a new environment.
"You could see at the end of last season. I am going to be very demanding because you can see what he can do. He has reacted the right way and hopefully I can see a player that shows that every week."
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