NICOLAS PEPE has been ordered to prove tonight that he has learned his lesson following Sunday’s red mist at Elland Road.
Arsenal’s £72million record signing will lead the line in chilly Norway for their Europa League Group B clash with Molde.
Manager Mikel Arteta insists he has forgiven the hot-headed winger after Pepe apologised for being sent off for headbutting Leeds’ Ezgjan Alioski.
And Arteta dismissed suggestions the red card could be the end of the Ivorian’s Gunners career.
The Spaniard said: “I don’t like that type of statement because there is no way there is a threat to his time here.
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“We all have disappointments and reactions in our playing careers and obviously it was frustrating to be playing with ten men for a long time.
“But Nico had a really good reaction with the way he apologised and understood his responsibilities. Hopefully we all see the player we want against Molde.
“This club has made a huge investment in him and people obviously expect a lot from him because of his quality.
“It is the most difficult thing to be consistent when you have to create, unlock the door, score goals and make assists.
“But that is why he is here and now he needs to embrace that challenge and go for it.
“Nico needs to feel that myself and the club are going to protect him and that we are going to give him time to adapt to the Premier League, a new city, a new language and a new environment.
“I will give him my full support all the time but I am also going to be very demanding with him because I know what he can do and he needs to show that every week.
“There are certain aspects that he can do better but I cannot fault his efforts at all.
“His stats show that the way he is working and trying for the team are the best since he’s been at the club.
“We all make mistakes when the heat is on and it’s about how you react and what you learn as an individual.
“Nico did what he did, he apologised personally and publicly and now it’s time to move on.”
Victory on Molde’s artificial pitch this evening will secure Arsenal’s Europa League qualification with two group games still to play.
And they really could do with a win after struggling in the Premier League in recent weeks.
Arteta claimed: “The margins are minimal and teams are winning league games with one or two shots on target.
“We want to improve our results, of course, but there are also aspects of our play that make me really enthusiastic and optimistic.
“When I see the young talent that we work with at this club and the future we can produce for them, it gets me really excited.
“So when you have the chance to qualify early, you have to grab that chance because you never know what’s going to happen in the other games. And this would really help with squad management in December.”
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