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Mikel Arteta backs ‘different’ Arsenal player to have strong end to the season

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Mikel Arteta has singled out formerly sidelined winger Nicolas Pepe as one to watch for the rest of the campaign ahead of the Gunners’ clash with Brentford.

Arsenal take on the Bees at The Emirates Stadium on the beginning of a favourable run of fixtures which could prove critical to their hopes of finishing in the top 4 and bringing Champions League football back to the red half of north London.

And Pepe could yet prove crucial, should he be able to replicate his brilliant end to last season. It is something that the Spanish boss backs him to do, saying he has seen a major difference in the Ivorian since he returned from the Africa Cup of Nations, where he excelled for the Ivory Coast.

‘Nicolas Pepe seems different now’, he told the media. His attitude, his smile, the way he is communicating with everybody, his energy. The way he has trained. His efficiency in training, his application’

Just how important could Nicolas Pepe be for Arsenal?

Pepe has hardly featured for Arsenal this campaign, having played just 24 minutes of Premier League football since his side’s 2-0 win over Leicester at the end of October.

But, in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence, he is Arsenal’s most direct goal threat when on the pitch. Currently, Emile Smith-Rowe sits atop the Gunners goalscoring charts with 8, but the Gunners know that more goals are needed if they want to secure a spot in the top 4, with forward Alexandre Lacazette having scored just two from open play.

And, for all his faults, Pepe does provide goals.

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Should he be able to find any sort of form in the run in, he could be a crucial part of Mikel Arteta’s side.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 25 47 63
2 Liverpool FC 24 42 54
3 Chelsea FC 24 30 47
4 Manchester United 25 8 43
5 West Ham United 25 11 41
6 Arsenal FC 22 9 39
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 4 37
8 Tottenham Hotspur 22 -1 36
9 Brighton & Hove Albion 24 0 33
10 Southampton FC 24 -7 29
11 Leicester City 22 -5 27
12 Aston Villa 23 -5 27
13 Crystal Palace 24 -3 26
14 Brentford FC 25 -14 24
15 Leeds United 23 -19 23
16 Everton FC 22 -10 22
17 Newcastle United 23 -19 21
18 Norwich City 24 -36 17
19 Watford FC 23 -20 15
20 Burnley FC 21 -12 14
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 16
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 12
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City 10
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 9
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 9
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Bowen, Jarrod West Ham United 8
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 8
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 8
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 8
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 8
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 8
Raphinha Leeds United 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 8
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 7
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City 7
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 7
De Bruyne, Kevin Manchester City 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Ward Prowse, James Southampton FC 6





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