Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta was left furious after Nicolas Pepe was sent off in their goalless draw with Leeds United, calling the Frenchman’s actions “unacceptable”. Pepe was dismissed six minutes into the second half after an off-the-ball incident with Ezgjan Alioski, with the winger appearing to headbutt the Leeds man.
Mikel Arteta Blasts Nicolas Pepe After Red Card
With the second half barely six minutes old, Leeds had the ball in midfield but were not in a particularly threatening position. As Pepe advanced forward, he and Alioski appeared to minorly collide, only for Pepe to go back and retaliate.
Referee Anthony Taylor then watched the incident back via the pitchside monitor but was left with little choice in terms of what to do next. Pepe was sent off, leaving Arsenal to play most of the half with ten men.
They did, though, do enough to grind out a goalless draw.
Nicolas Pepe Actions ‘Unacceptable’
Speaking to reporters after the game, Gunners boss Arteta said: “Considering how early we got Pepe sent off we have to take it. I never like a draw but in the circumstances, it’s a point. It is unacceptable.
“The first half there were two different periods. The game broke a bit, we started to give the ball away and led to them having the space to break. The second half it was a matter of defending well and staying patient and using the pace of our players in the space they were leaving.”
When asked further about his views on Pepe’s dismissal, he simply replied: “Unacceptable.”
Leeds Impressive, Arsenal Not So
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have impressed since their promotion from the Championship, playing an entertaining brand of football that has seen them be regular scorers at the top level.
While that chance creation continued against the Gunners, their finishing let them down on this occasion. Only four of their 25 shots throughout the game were on target, and three of their efforts hit the woodwork, all in the 79th minute and beyond.
Arsenal, meanwhile, struggled to create anything at all, either side of Pepe’s red card. They had nine efforts on goal in total, with only two of them being on target.
So far this season, Arteta’s side have only scored nine goals in nine league matches – their lowest total since 1986/87.
The Spaniard may have improved them defensively, but up front they are still leaving a lot to be desired.