• Arsenal boss Emery tempted to hand Pepe first start

    Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal

    Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has hinted he could hand club-record signing Nicolas Pepe his first start as the Gunners travel to face Liverpool this weekend.

    The Ivory Coast international has come off the bench in the opening two Premier League fixtures of the season.

    He replaced Reiss Nelson at half-time in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Burnley and showed some good touches as he continues to build an understanding with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    While Emery has often taken time to bed new players into his side, he feels the 24-year-old could now be ready to step up.

    ‘The most important thing is, like a person, to help him and his family to feel comfortable here,’ Emery said of the £72million man.

    ‘Now he is three weeks into working here with us. He didn’t do the pre-season here but he’s progressively feeling better.

    ‘For example, in the first match, he played 15 minutes in Newcastle, then he played 45 minutes against Burnley. I think his individual performances are progressively getting better.

    ‘For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes. I am going to decide tomorrow, but really his progress has been positive and has been good for the team and for him.

    ‘The most important piece of the adaptation is to help him to feel easy and be comfortable with us.’

    Both Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil are expected to be fully recovered from the issues which kept them out of the Burnley win as Arsenal head back to Liverpool looking to escape the kind of thrashing they have endured there in recent years.

    A 5-1 defeat last year was preceded by 4-0 and 3-1 losses under Arsene Wenger but Emery will not be letting the gravity of those results weigh heavy on his players heading into Saturday.

    ‘Each match, each moment, each season is different,’ he added.

    ‘We can use last year, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago (to learn).

    ‘But really it’s about our moment and this moment. Anfield is a big atmosphere with their supporters, they are a very good team and they advantage for us in their progress and in the last years.

    ‘In Anfield they have one step more in feeling strong, but it’s not for us, it’s for all.

    ‘We need to take our best performance and to go there with a good feeling and also thinking we can achieve that performance individually and collectively to be strong and to have our chances.

    ‘We are looking forward to going there and showing that.’

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