Unai Emery Defends Arsenals Decision to Sign Nicolas Pepe Over Wilfried Zaha

​Arsenal manager Unai Emery has backed £72m summer signing Nicolas Pepe to come good at the Emirates Stadium following heavy criticism for a poor start to life in England.

The Gunners were linked with a move for Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha during the off-season, but opted to pursue a deal for his Ivorian compatriot after balking at the Eagles' price-tag. Pepe has struggled for form since joining the north London outfit, though he showed glimpses of his true capabilities during Thursday's 3-2 victory against Vitoria Guimaraes.


The winger's only goal before that triumph was a penalty versus ​Aston Villa, Pepe tripling his tally for ​Arsenal with two sumptuous late free-kicks to win the midweek clash with Vitoria.

Speaking ahead of their ​Premier League meeting with ​Palace on Sunday, Emery said of the record purchase (as quoted by the ​Mirror): "We chose to sign [him] even though Zaha is a very good player.

"We signed Pepe not for two months, six months, one or two years, but for the process. And the process is coming together little by little. Nicolas will be more confident after Thursday. 

"This club follows a lot of players all around the world, because we have very good scouts. We are very happy with Pepe. We need patience and to be calm with him, help him and protect him because he can think he is playing under pressure."

Unai Emery

Despite praising Zaha's mercurial talents, Emery believes his backline can shackle the trickster this weekend, explaining: "He is a very good player and he has been the difference in a lot of matches against us.

"But, we have players who can stop him and impose our capacity, our organisation on them. For sure he is very motivated, but our challenge is how we can stop him and use our own quality."

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Source : 90min