Nicolas Pepe was sucked in by “great defending” from Ezgjan Alioski against Leeds, says Tony Adams, with the Arsenal forward branded “silly” for being dragged into a trap that saw him collect a red card.
The Ivorian was sent off during a keenly-fought contest at Elland Road which ended in a 0-0 draw.
Mikel Arteta’s side had been hoping to take more than a share of the spoils from that contest, but were forced into containment mode after being reduced to 10 men.
Pepe has been widely condemned for tangling with Alioski, with a needless headbutt leading to him being dismissed six minutes into the second half.
Leeds' divisive Macedonian defender has not covered himself in glory either, with a theatrical tumble taken after winding an opponent up to the point that he snapped.
Adams has no issue with how Alioski acted, with it part of his job to rile rivals, but admits that Pepe let himself and Arsenal down by buckling under the kind of pressure that Premier League performers should be accustomed to facing.
The legendary former Gunners captain told Stadium Astro: “I can’t defend him at all. He’s got frustrated because there is huge pressure, the Leeds player is completely down his neck.
“You are entitled to do that, that is great defending for me. You have got to take that in your stride.
“If a defender is not pressurising you, then he’s not doing his job.
“I can’t defend the guy at all, he has been very silly on this occasion. It kind of killed Arsenal because they had to go back and completely defend.
“It goes back to previously, the way that the defender was pressurising him all over the pitch and Pepe didn’t like that. He has got provoked and turned around and headbutted him.
“It’s the way you react to that kind of pressure. You react by creating problems and scoring goals. There are kids watching and that was a really bad example.”
Pepe has struggled to make a positive impact through his time at Arsenal, on the back of a club-record £72 million ($96m) move from Lille in 2019, and it remains to be seen whether he will be welcomed back into the fold by Mikel Arteta once an untimely suspension has been served.