Mikel Arteta calls Nicolas Pepe’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’

Mikel Arteta calls Nicolas Pepe’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’

Nicolas Pepe was sent off for a stupid header on Ezgjan Alioski.  Reuters

Nicolas Pepe appeared to head butt Leeds defender Ezgjan Alioski in an off-the-ball challenge and the club’s record signing from Arsenal received a red card in the 51st minute after Anthony Taylor consulted with the video assistant referee.

Arsenal had been outscored up to that point, but held their ground for the rest of the match to claim a point, although Arteta was still visibly upset by how Pepe had left his teammates high and dry.

“It is unacceptable,” Arteta said, declining to elaborate.

The Spaniard’s mood was not helped by a muscle injury in Willian that forced the Brazilian to withdraw at half-time, while substitute Bukayo Saka fared worse in a challenge at the end and limped away.

While they were able to frustrate a spendthrift Leeds, Arsenal offered little going forward and have only scored once in their most recent five Premier League matches.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was largely isolated after having a rare opportunity in a central role up front, with Alexandre Lacazette falling to the bench as the Gunners only had two shots on target Sunday afternoon.

“The fact that we need to score more goals is a concern,” Arteta said. “We need goals and many goals to win football matches to be the best team we want to be. Without that it is impossible.

“It doesn’t matter how defensive we are.

“It is not the lack of attacking players that we have or the attacking players that we are putting on the field, but we need times when we have to make better decisions and be more ruthless.

“But it’s the hardest thing in football and sometimes we go through those patches and we have to overcome. I have to help the players to overcome and do it as quickly as possible ”.

While Arteta wasn’t satisfied with leaving West Yorkshire with just one point, he was able to take some positives.

“We have to take a point considering the circumstances,” he added. “I am never satisfied with a point but we know the challenge that we faced in the second half for 40 minutes in the second half with 10 men.

“The way we reacted and the resistance we showed, the effort that all the players put in to try to overcome that advantage was phenomenal.”

Leeds had 25 attempts at goal, 13 in the first half and 12 after the break, but only four hit home on a day when Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha, gave their first start with the club, hit the White.

Marcelo Bielsa regretted the inability to capitalize on his opportunities, but when told that it is a sign of how far Leeds have come that a draw with Arsenal is considered disappointing, the manager said: “Maybe it’s like you say.

“The game had two moments: the first hour where we played 11 against 11 in which the game dominated and did not allow the rival to react, and the final half hour where the dominance was even clearer.

“Offensively we did enough to deserve to have established an advantage.”

Raphinha was one of those who caught Leeds’s attention in a lively display, but Bielsa’s praise for the winger was a bit measured, as the head coach put it: “It was a positive performance.

“He contributed to help improve our offensive game.

“He couldn’t bring more balance individually, but he had a huge influence on the right side where we were dangerous.”

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