Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe was back in the goals today as he scored in Ivory Coast’s 2-2 draw with Sierra Leone in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 26-year-old is set to miss the majority of January’s matches, with his nation currently top of their group and set to progress to the next round and play more fixtures.
The goal is a timely one for the winger, who will be hoping he can help guide his side to victory in the tournament while rediscovering some of his best form too.
Pepe is one of four players currently missing for the Gunners at AFCON, with Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Elneny all currently competing in the competition with their nations.
He made the switch from Lille for roughly £70million back in 2019, but the Ivory Coast international is yet to leave his mark at the Emirates.
There have been flashes of his brilliance, though this season he has been playing more of a backup role behind wonderkid Bukayo Saka.
Pepe’s 26 goals and 20 assists in 101 club appearances don’t make for terrible reading, but he has yet to win the trust of his manager Mikel Arteta at the club.
The Spaniard has only handed nine Premier League appearances to the winger this season, though his AFCON form and injury worries could display a potential route back into the first team.
His goal against Sierra Leone certainly won’t do any harm to his prospects, slamming home a strike from the edge of the box to beat the goalkeeper.
Arsenal fans were quick to take to social media, full of praise for their forward.
SundayLeagueStocko said: “Man must have the highest conversion rate in the world from that specific spot on the pitch.”
Redmistultra said: “Trademark Pepe finish.”
Pixelated-Hitch said: “Don’t know if I’m ready to give up on Pepe.. he’s reminding me why I rate him so much. They had ridiculous skill.”
@IrishGooner said: “Pepe gets a lot of hate, probably because of the price tag (which wasn’t his fault), but I can’t dislike him. He’s a very likeable guy, and even when he’s not playing, he’s smiling in the training pics and always seem to turn in goals and assists when given a run. Go on Pepe.”
@Galadanci9 said: “Hate him all you want, but no RW in arsenal score goals of this magnitude.”
@Mujeeb179420 said: “Hope Arteta was watching.”