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'He didn't take it with efficiency' - Emery rues 'key chance' squandered by Pepe

05:14 BST 22/10/2019
Nicolas Pepe Arsenal 2019-20
The winger missed an excellent opportunity to give Arsenal the lead in their 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane

Unai Emery claimed Nicolas Pepe’s miss from six yards was a key moment as Arsenal’s run of eight games unbeaten in all competitions came to an end at Sheffield United.

Lys Mousset’s goal at Bramall Lane gave the Blades a 1-0 win as Arsenal’s poor run against the Blades continued, having never won against them in four Premier League attempts.

Pepe has endured a frustrating start to his career in England having moved from Lille for £72 million in the summer with the forward yet to score from open play for the Gunners.  

The Ivorian, who scored 23 goals in 41 appearances for the Ligue 1 side last campaign, has netted just once in 10 appearances, including eight in the Premier League.

Pepe's lone goal came in a 3-2 home win over Aston Villa, with Pepe stepping up to bring Arsenal level following a foul on Matteo Guendouzi.

With Tuesday's defeat, Arsenal missed an opportunity to go third in the league and Emery believes Pepe’s miss is part of a process with improvement and gaining confidence.

"The chance for us, for Pepe, was the key," he told reporters.

 

"Because if they score the first goal, defensively they’re very strong.

"Pepe is improving I think, but his way with us is little-by-little getting better, and the next step is to score.

"Tonight for example, the best chance is one he is usually going to score, but he didn’t take it with efficiency. He is improving and taking confidence, but it is one process."

Arsenal currently sit fifth in the league on 15 points, two points behind Leicester and Chelsea in third and fourth place, respectively.

The Gunners' title hopes look to also be in, at best, severe jeopardy, though, as league-leaders Liverpool now hold a 10-point gap over Arsenal while Manchester City sit six points behind last year's Champions League winners.

Next up for Arsenal is a Europa League group stage match against Portuguese side Vitoria SC, with the Gunners having cruised past Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege in their first two Europa League games. 

After that, the Gunners will look to get back on track in the Premier League at home to Crystal Palace.