Freddie Ljungberg was quick to praise Nicolas Pepe’s contribution after the Ivorian scored his first goal from open play for Arsenal to help the Gunners end their two-month winless run.
Handed a start on the right flank, the 24-year-old produced his best display in a Gunners shirt, grabbing a fine goal before assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for his side’s third.
Having scored a brace as a substitute against Vitoria in the Europa League at the tail-end of October, a cameo that was supposed to kick-start his career in north London but proved to be a false dawn, the challenge for the player is to build on this performance.
“People always ask me about Nico and I try to explain,” said Ljungberg after the game.
“He comes from the French league, he comes to the Premier League – in my opinion the best league in the world – and it’s a lot faster and a lot harder. He needs to adapt.
“People put pressure on him but that’s not so easy, and I thought what he did today was he worked really hard offensively and defensively and showed his quality.
“I’m so pleased for him because at the same time he was a big, big buy for the club and then comes pressure with that as well. He will fall asleep with a smile tonight!”
Pepe looked shattered when he was finally taken off in the closing stages. With one eye on Sunday’s game against Manchester City, you’d imagine the winger will be rested on Thursday when we travel to Belgium for our final Europa League match with Standard Liege.