Arteta shows no tolerance for Pepe’s dismissal

Arteta shows no tolerance for Pepe’s dismissal

LONDON • Mikel Arteta branded Nicolas Pepe’s lack of discipline “unacceptable” after Arsenal were forced to hold out for a 0-0 draw at Leeds on Sunday.

Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha all hit the woodwork for Marcelo Bielsa’s men after the Ivorian winger was sent off six minutes into the second half for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski.

The 25-year-old is struggling to live up to expectations since a £72 million (S$129 million) move from Lille 15 months ago and Arteta was furious at his dismissal after just a second Premier League start this season.

“It’s very clear. It is unacceptable,” said the Arsenal manager when asked what he had told him in the dressing room.

“When Pepe let the team down, I really liked the personality of the team, how we suffered together and believed in what we had to do.”

A point leaves both sides in the bottom half of the table, as Arsenal edged up to 11th with Leeds two points back in 14th.

However, Gunners defender Hector Bellerin admitted the draw was “not enough for us”, with the visitors having failed to score from open play in five Premier League games.

Even before being reduced to 10 men, Arteta’s men offered precious little going forward despite Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being played down the middle for the first time in the league under the Spaniard.

The Arsenal captain was starved of service as his own wait for a non-penalty goal since the opening day of the season goes on. But Arteta said a draw at Elland Road was the best outcome for his team, who also lost Willian and substitute Bukayo Saka to injuries.

“Considering how early we got Pepe sent off, we have to take it,” he added. “I never like a draw but considering the circumstances, it is a point.”

Like Arsenal, the hosts also had regrets from the match, although it was more to do with their wayward finishing.

“We certainly created enough chances and did enough to win it,” said Leeds midfielder Stuart Dallas. “The sending-off changed the game and we had a lot of possession. It is just unfortunate one of those chances we worked didn’t go in.”

His manager Marcelo Bielsa said: “We’re frustrated as we could have won the game. We tried to create danger in different ways, through the wings, long distance and in a small sense through balls through the middle.

“In these three ways, we were able to create danger but not able to convert.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS