The £ 72 million signing hasn’t always impressed this season, but scored a crucial goal in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Sheffield United
It was Pepe’s eighth goal of the season and his second since restarting and Arteta believes the Ivorian international is now showing why Arsenal invested so much in him last season.
“I’m very excited about what he brings to the team,” said the Spaniard. “I think he clicked, I think he realizes what he has to do for the team too when we don’t have the ball.
“I’m so happy today, if you see his defensive action, it’s amazing what he was doing, then with the ball he gives us the creativity, the flair that great teams need. He is always unpredictable when he has the ball. It is going in the right direction. ”
Arteta added, “I really like it. In the past, I didn’t know him personally but I think he’s an incredible player, but he has to be decisive in every game.
“He has to take care of the moments in the game when he disconnects a bit and he can’t do that. I will be very persistent with him in trying to change that because if he is at his best, he is a player who can make a difference for the team. ”
Pepe opened the scoring for Arsenal at Bramall Lane when he slipped home from the penalty spot in the middle of the first half after Alexandre Lacazette was called into the box.
It was his 16th direct participation in the season goal – only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with 21, has more for Arsenal since the start of the campaign.
Since the start of the year, the winger has scored four times and set up three more and Arteta thinks his form is a sign that he is now starting to settle in England.
The Arsenal head coach said: “It is very important to try to understand the player, his feelings, how difficult it was for him to adapt to a new country and a language that he doesn’t understand and he can’t talk to his teammates. .
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“But he is very willing, he is so kind, he is always smiling, he is always positive with everyone. It’s a bit of a free spirit, but it’s good because you need these kinds of characters on your team and now he’s showing his commitment to us.
“I don’t know how it felt before, we’re just trying to create the right environment for the players and treat them a little bit individually for their needs.
“I hope we are in the right direction with Nico and he can feel that he has our full support and the only goal for us to try to improve him and make it decisive for the team. “