Nicolas Pepe

Sheffield United - Arsenal recap
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Ceballos stoppage-time goal sends Arsenal to FA Cup semis

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Arsenal overcame a late Sheffield United equalizer to advance to the FA Cup semifinals with a 2-1 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Nicolas Pepe converted an early penalty and helped set up Dani Ceballos’ splendid finish in stoppage time to move to within two wins of a record 14th FA Cup.

Arsenal has won three of the last six FA Cups.

Sheffield United now has a draw and three losses since the restart of English football.

[ RELATED: Liverpool win title – everything to know ]

Arsenal led from the 25th minute until the 87th when David McGoldrick’s quick reaction to clean up a mess in the Gunners’ box leveled the score line.

But Pepe ran onto an incisive Eddie Nketiah pass and there was no help for Enda Stevens when Ceballos latched onto a partial clearance and fired past Dean Henderson from an acute angle.

Arsenal joins Manchester United in the semifinals with two more matches set for Sunday.

Aubameyang fires Arsenal past Everton

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang climbed atop the Premier League’s goal-scoring list as Arsenal beat Everton 3-2 on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Eddie Nketiah also scored for Mikel Arteta‘s men, who allowed a first-minute goal but rebounded to move ninth. The Gunners are four points off fifth.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richalrison scored for Everton, which sits a point behind the Gunners in 11th.


Three things we learned

1. Aubameyang’s class permanent: There’s a new name joining Jamie Vardy atop the Premier League’s goal scoring leaderboard, as Aubameyang bagged his 16th and 17th goals of the season. The Gabonese striker scored with his left foot and his head in putting himself one goal from 50 in his PL career.

2. Leno continues to make Best XI case: The majority of voters have probably used a permanent marker to put Alisson Becker into their teams of the year, but Bernd Leno has been an absolute marvel behind Arsenal’s suspect defense (which returned Sunday after a 270-minute shutout streak).

It’s not just about his shot-stopping, which is supremely good (and yes we know he allowed two on Sunday). Leno connected on five of seven long passes and passed at 90 percent. We know Mikel Arteta wants a ball-mover like Ederson. Leno fits the bill.

3. English youngsters deliver for both teams: Calvert-Lewin may have only converted one of his three prime chances, including a stoppage-time header wide of the goal, but the big Everton striker remains in the midst of his career year. The hosts got a ninth assist in all comps from Bukayo Saka (18) on a first PL goal from Eddie Nketiah, who’s just two years older than the English U-19 star.

That’s not even mentioning another decent-enough day from Mason Holgate, who’s improved dramatically under Ancelotti.

Man of the Match: Aubameyang.


Calvert-Lewin was the beneficiary of miserable Arsenal defending on a first-minute free kick, as Sead Kolasinac followed his mark into the box and David Luiz popped a header into the path of the scorer.

Djibril Sidibe then closed down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the Gabonese was played deep into the Everton third.

Kolasinac had injury added to his insult, his jersey sleeve a makeshift sling for his shoulder as he made way for Bukayo Saka in the 18th minute.

Eddie Nketiah sent Nicolas Pepe into the 18, but the Ivorian’s rocket blasted over the arms of leaping Jordan Pickford.

The Everton keeper would save Pepe in the 26th, but he couldn’t stop Nketiah a minute later. The Englishman leaped to knock in a terrific Saka cross for 1-1.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The goals kept coming, as Luiz played Aubameyang through the Everton backline for a smashing finish in the 33rd, only to see Yerry Mina cue up Richarlison‘s stoppage-time finish.

The second half saw Arsenal score within a minute of the restart, Aubameyang heading a Pepe cross past Pickford.

Everton began to put pressure on the Gunners, and Leno made an incredible close-range save on Calvert-Lewin in the 73rd.

Leno made another big save when Richarlison trapped a low Delph drive and turned toward the goal.

Granit Xhaka picked off a poor Jordan Pickford pass and Nketiah struck the crossbar in the 86th.

Arteta on big Arsenal win, Champions League ban for old friends Man City

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is feeling optimistic at his team’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League, even if it comes with conflicted feelings about a lot of his friends.

The longtime Manchester City assistant coach knows that fifth place could be enough to get his Gunners into the UCL after City was banned for two years.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Now Sunday’s dismantling of Newcastle United has Arsenal six points back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners can still directly affect the fates of several teams ahead of them, with Everton, Spurs, Leicester City, and Wolves on the docket.

“Ten days ago I was disappointed with the draw at Burnley and it looked so far away,” he said, via the BBC. “Now it’s up to us to put a run together.”

Arteta was also asked about his feelings for City during a tough time for his former employers.

“I’ve been in contact with him,” Arteta said of City boss Pep Guardiola, via Football.London. “I just want the best for City, I know how hard they work. Now I have to do the very best for Arsenal. I was shocked, contacted Pep to feel for them because I know they are suffering.”

The manager also had kind words for two redemptive pieces of Arsenal’s puzzle. Dani Ceballos had a strong game in the center of the park, and Arteta said the midfielder has been “an animal” since returning to health and dedicating himself to the cause.

As for Nicolas Pepe, who hasn’t been a consistent starter for three Arsenal managers this year, his one goal, two-assist performance wasn’t what drew Arteta’s praise.

“We just need consistency from him,” he said. “The way he applied himself defensively he was top drawer, things he wasn’t doing in the past.”

Sunday’s match started a run of four matches in 11 days for the Gunners. They’ll visit Olympiacos on Thursday, then welcome Everton on Feb. 23 before the Greeks come to London for the second leg of the Europa League tie.

Pepe stars, Arsenal crushes Newcastle

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Nicolas Pepe had a goal and two assists as Arsenal handled Newcastle United 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil scored the other goals as Arsenal moved into 10th place, seven points back of the top four.

It was a tale of two very different halves for Newcastle, who entered the day even with Arsenal on 31 points, and leaves it in 13th place. The Magpies were very good in the opening 45, and dismantled in the second stanza.


Three highlights

1. Arsenal defense finally approaching Leno’s level: There were moments for Newcastle’s tricky wide men, but Mikel Arteta‘s defense continued its improvement under his watch. Bernd Leno saved Arsenal’s lives on so many cases earlier in the season, and he’s finding life a lot easier as the Arteta era finds its footing.

2. Pepe powers Gunners attack: Nicolas Pepe entered the day leading Arsenal in assists and dribbles per game, and was second in key passes despite starting just 14 of his 21 appearances. Mikel Arteta trusted the Ivorian on Sunday, and boy did he deliver the goods in being involved in all four goals. But there’s so much more.

Pepe was credited with four key passes and three big chances created, winning 7 of 13 duels with an interception and two tackles. Three of his seven crosses were on target and he passed the ball at 83 percent.

3. Saka continues to impress: We’ve had to remind ourselves that Bukayo Saka is still just a teenager so many times this season. The 18-year-old burst onto the scene as a fun winger, but has become an able left back with incredible threat moving forward. The Gunners have a wealth of fine young players with promise. Imagine if they’ve found the boss to organize them.

Man of the Match: Pepe, with notes of appreciation for Saka, Saint-Maximin, and Aubameyang.


Arsenal held the ball for most of the first four minutes, but Joelinton drove past Shkrodan Mustafi to pick out Valentino Lazaro, whose shot was blocked for a corner.

Allan Saint-Maximin wanted a penalty call when fouled by Granit Xhaka, but neither Lee Mason not VAR thought it the case.

A training ground routine off a corner kick led to a Sean Longstaff rip from 25 yards, and Leno had to act quickly to stymy a deflected effort.

Joelinton then just missed a near-post chance after a bit of Saint-Maximin wizardry. The Frenchman soon drew a dangerous free kick that Longstaff sent into orbit.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The game was wide open, Bukayo Saka missing with an arrow meant for the upper 90 and Miguel Almiron wasting the end of a long, wonderful dribble.

Arsenal grew into the game and Eddie Nketiah looked more and more dangerous in tearing into a shot that Dubravka caught in the 38th. Dubravka then tipped a Nicolas Pepe free kick over the bar.

Saint-Maximin then dribbled the Arsenal team to push a pass through the six, but Joelinton was hobbled and didn’t follow the play.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Arsenal burst out of the halftime gates and Nicolas Pepe set up Nketiah for a point-blank chance cranked off the top of the crossbar.

Aubameyang pushed Arsenal onto the score sheet in the 54th minute, heading home from close range after a terrific Pepe cross.

Pepe got on the board soon after, the Ivorian star igniting the Gunners.

Ciaran Clark ripped a Saint-Maximin pass that was deflected out for a corner, and Saint-Maximin later smashed the far post with a shot from distance.

The third Arsenal goal was a Dubravka error. Ozil led a rush and spotted Pepe, who passed to Lacazette before Ozil pushed a clumsy shot to goal that defied Newcastle’s star keeper.

Pepe was back involved in the fourth, Joe Willock‘s incisive pass to the winger doing the heavy lifting en route to Lacazette’s finish.

Unai Emery: Some Arsenal stars ‘asked for more than what they were giving back’

Unai Emery: Arsenal
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Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery is not holding back in discussing why the Gunners failed to get the job done on his watch.

Emery said “Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years” when he was hired and that the club took positive steps in reaching last season’s Europa League Final and finishing a point off the Top Four.

Arsenal had Champions’ League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Emery says that the exodus of four leaders this summer was too big of a problem to address by the time he was fired in December.

“We lost our four captains: Koscielny, Cech, Ramsey and Monreal,” Emery told France Football. “They were personalities that we missed this season to stay on the right track. And some stars did not have a good attitude and asked for more than what they were giving back.”

Well, those words point in the direction of several well-worn targets for fan unrest, don’t they Mesut? This is where Lionel Messi will have wanted Emery to name names.

Emery seems to accept that he played his part in the failure but also name-dropped the club’s biggest summer signing in addressed the terrible first half of this Premier League season.

“We needed time to succeed with our transition to a new Arsenal which is what I wanted,” he said. “For example, Nicolas Pepe, who was the club’s choice, clearly needed time to adapt. But I accept the rule of thumb and that I am poorly placed to criticize because I also benefited from such judgement in the past.”

This where we feel required to point out that Pepe must have some sort of personality issue with both of his coaches, because advanced stats say he’s been one of, if not, the most effective Gunner.

There’s a comparison to be made between the long rebuilds after the tenures of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger at Manchester United and Arsenal. Certainly United was left in a better position, but Arsenal had the better replacement.

Either way, the ends of two eras have led to a pair of substandard new ones.