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Pepe deserved his chance and he took it - Arteta full of praise for Arsenal forward after goal at Southampton

23:28 GMT 26/01/2021
Nicolas Pepe Arsenal 2020-21
The Ivorian scored in the eighth minute to quickly equalise after the Gunners fell behind early at St Mary's

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta was full of praise for Nicolas Pepe, who scored a vital goal for the Gunners in their 3-1 win at Southampton on Tuesday. 

Stuart Armstrong gave the home side the lead after just three minutes before Pepe struck back five minutes later after he was played in by Granit Xhaka. 

Bukayo Saka would go on to give Arsenal the lead before half-time before Alexandre Lacazette's goal in the second half put the game away. 

Arteta's resurgent side are up to eighth in the table, with only Man City collecting more points than Arsenal have in the league since Boxing Day. 

Pepe's Arsenal career seemed to be in doubt after November's red card against Leeds but the Ivorian has bounced back, much to the delight of his manager.

"He was really good again," Arteta told BT Sport of Pepe, who made his first league start since December 19. "He created big moments. He deserved his chance today and he took it."

Saka was another star on the night for Arsenal, as he became just the second English teenager to score for Arsenal in consecutive Premier League appearances after Ashley Cole in October 2000.

On Saka, Areta said: "He has been very consistent. He has played in different positions and adapted. He is assisting players. It was another strong performance today."

Arteta was happy to see his side quickly bounce back against the Saints, who defeated the Gunners 1-0 in the FA Cup just three days prior. 

"I think we were good from the start," Arteta said. "We conceded a goal from a corner but responded straight away. We were good on the ball. We got out of trouble and made some big chances. Our pressing was brilliant. We were good in the break. It was a strong performance."

"It is tough to win here. They are strong and have been in form. It showed a lot of intelligence and resilience from the team in the way they managed the game.

"We have still a lot to do. We have to improve, be humble and train good for the next game."