Unai Emery suggested he is ready to hand record signing Nicolas Pepe a first Arsenal start in Saturday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool.
The Ivory Coast forward arrived in a deal that could reach a reported €72million from Lille in the close season but has been limited to substitute appearances in wins over Newcastle United and Burnley.
Gunners boss Emery has been reluctant to thrust the 24-year-old into action due to a lack of pre-season preparation at Arsenal.
But Emery hinted a more prominent role is possible for Pepe against Liverpool as the only two teams with 100 per cent records in the Premier League face each other at Anfield.
“The most important thing is, like a person, to help him and his family to feel comfortable here. Now he is three weeks into working here with us,” Emery said of Pepe.
“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.”
22/08 – 22nd August is the most common date for players to score their first ever Premier League goal. 40 players have done so, including Eric Cantona, Stan Collymore, Clive Mendonca, Dimitar Berbatov and Aaron Ramsey. Selection. pic.twitter.com/WEa3eBUeWp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 22, 2019
Emery, who will also make a decision on Friday over the availability of Mesut Ozil (illness) and Granit Xhaka (leg), has led Arsenal to two opening league wins for the first time in a decade.
But in Arsenal’s last visit to Anfield they were ransacked 5-1 by Jurgen Klopp’s men and Emery says the test against the Reds is an opportunity for his side to show their quality.
“Each match is a big challenge and each match is for us to prepare best as possible. The idea is to continue creating in our way and style,” he added.
“We need to be strong and also we can recover some players to be fit. I think we are closer to achieving everyone being ready to play, but we need some more time.
“For Saturday, we are in good spirits and our players are ready to play with big ambition to do something important.
“It’s a big stadium with a big atmosphere and I want to play every match in our amazing stadium with our amazing supporters in our home.
“It’s going to be a different game to Burnley because the team is different. They are going to demand different tactical issues, but we want to play and show how we are now.
“It’s a big test to show their capacity and our capacity.”
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