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Europa League week 3

The record summer signing Pepe from French side Lille [over 92m USD] delivered two beautiful set pieces to give an important win for Arsenal. Down 2-1 at home against Vitoria Guimaraes the Ivory Coast international signed his first great performance with his new shirt. 

Pepe is still acclimating to his new team. He entered the game with a little over 15 minutes to play and created immediate danger. First he leveled the game up thanks to a free-kick and then gave Arsenal the victory in the last minute of extra-time with another left footed free-kick. Two superb strikes that enabled the Gunners to clean the first three games with as many victories and in a perfect spot to win the group. 

Coach Emery on the win:

Lots of things happened in the 90 minutes. Firstly I want to speak about this competition. In the Europa League, those three points are very important for us because our logic is to finish first in that group. Over 90 minutes, we struggled more in the first half than we wanted. We lost a lot of balls in midfield and gave them chances in the transition to score and to start winning the game.

In the second match, I think we controlled it better. We created chances but our attack was playing more with their emotion and heart tonight than with control, or with shape on the pitch. We weren’t as organised in the attack. It’s important. Two goals from Pepe were fantastic and to finish with the win…

I think we deserved to win but they played really well. We know that every Portuguese team is very organised and they also have good structure, with good players. I remember when I played against Portuguese teams, every Portuguese team was difficult. Last year, we drew against Sporting 0-0. I was talking to Edu about that beforehand. It was difficult to win.

Also, we used different players and some players were maybe more nervous than normal tonight, but it’s experience for them. Also, in this competition, when we have two victories already, I want to play with different players to give them confidence and minutes.

I want them to have experience. There are more positive things than negatives, but I want to take the positive things tonight for the next matches and the next match in this competition.

On Pepe’s set pieces:

Every player, usually, they need time to adapt. Pepe is a very good player and we believe in him, totally. The way he’s going, sometimes he feels better, sometimes it’s with more difficulty on the pitch. It depends on the opponent. He’s improving and tonight those two goals are really important for us first, and then secondly for him.

He’s continuing the adaptation in his process and as soon as he can adapt, that’s better for us. We are very happy for him and for us because those two goals, from two set-pieces, were perfect. He was trying a lot of set-piece shooting on the training ground last week and I was watching his shooting.