Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has hinted he could hand club-record signing Nicolas Pepe his first start as the Gunners travel to face Liverpool this weekend.
The Ivory Coast international has come off the bench in the opening two Premier League fixtures of the season.
He replaced Reiss Nelson at half-time in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Burnley and showed some good touches as he continues to build an understanding with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
While Emery has often taken time to bed new players into his side, he feels the 24-year-old could now be ready to step up.
“The most important thing is, like a person, to help him and his family to feel comfortable here,” Emery said of the £72million man.
“Now he is three weeks into working here with us. He didn’t do the pre-season here but he’s progressively feeling better.
“For example, in the first match, he played 15 minutes in Newcastle, then he played 45 minutes against Burnley. I think his individual performances are progressively getting better.
“For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes. I am going to decide tomorrow, but really his progress has been positive and has been good for the team and for him.
“The most important piece of the adaptation is to help him to feel easy and be comfortable with us.”
Both Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil are expected to be fully recovered from the issues which kept them out of the Burnley win as Arsenal head back to Liverpool looking to escape the kind of thrashing they have endured there in recent years.
A 5-1 defeat last year was preceded by 4-0 and 3-1 losses under Arsene Wenger but Emery will not be letting the gravity of those results weigh heavy on his players heading into Saturday.
“Each match, each moment, each season is different,” he added.
“We can use last year, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago (to learn).
“But really it’s about our moment and this moment. Anfield is a big atmosphere with their supporters, they are a very good team and they advantage for us in their progress and in the last years.
“In Anfield they have one step more in feeling strong, but it’s not for us, it’s for all.
“We need to take our best performance and to go there with a good feeling and also thinking we can achieve that performance individually and collectively to be strong and to have our chances.
“We are looking forward to going there and showing that.”
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Ravel Morrison is ready to make his first Premier League appearance in five years, according to Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.
The former Manchester United trainee is back in the English top flight after signing a 12-month deal with the Blades this summer, following spells in Italy, Mexico and Sweden.
Morrison has yet to appear for Wilder’s team in the opening two matches this season, not even making the bench, but did play in a behind-closed-doors game against his former club United this week.
The 26-year-old forward, who can also play in midfield, will hope to be involved against Leicester at Bramall Lane on Saturday but if he is not then he will likely make his debut against Blackburn in the Carabao Cup on August 27.
“He’s ready. He’s been in both squads without playing but we played a behind-closed-doors game against Manchester United in the week and he played 90 minutes in that,” said Wilder.
“It was a great exercise for us against about £200million worth of talent. When we talked about playing a behind-closed-doors against Manchester United and then all of a sudden some unbelievably talented footballers came walking over towards our boys, it was a bit like ‘wow, this is a proper game!’
“It was a good exercise for our boys against world-class players and we certainly appreciate the opportunity going over to Manchester United and them putting the game on for us.
“But Rav has a big part to play, he knows that. We talk about picking the side and it’s a difficult selection process for myself and picking the subs as well. There’s a lot of competition to even get on the bench and we need that.”
Wilder also revealed forward Callum Robinson will be fit for the weekend after coming off injured against Crystal Palace on Sunday. However, the news was not so good regarding midfielder John Fleck.
“We’ve a doubt about John Fleck but Callum has trained all week,” he said. “Those two both had to come off with injuries but we’ll give John that time to recover.”
The Blades have made a solid start to life back in the Premier League, building on their opening-day draw at Bournemouth by defeating Palace 1-0.
Ahead of Leicester’s visit to Bramall Lane, Wilder insists his squad are not getting ahead of themselves.
“They won’t get carried away, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “They haven’t done for three years so they certainly won’t after two games in a different league.
“I’ve always kept my feet on the ground, I’ve never got ahead of myself. I think it’s a dangerous game to do that whether you’re a player, manager or a coach.
“At the moment I’m in the Premier League but I want to stay in here for a number of years and that’s got to be our attitude. That’s an attitude that’s driven myself on personally and I look at our players and I see a lot of similarities in their approach as well.
“The drive from the staff and the message that comes across all the time is a consistent one so that’s why I can confidently say that they’ll never get ahead of themselves because it’s not a trait that my team has.”
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Wayne Rooney’s MLS career looks to be heading for an ignoble end after his sending-off against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
As the DC United striker prepares for a move back to England to assume a player-coach role at Derby, PA looks at the highs and lows of the 33-year-old’s career.
HIGH – Scores for Everton against Arsenal in October 2002 at the age of 16 years and 360 days, making him the youngest Premier League goalscorer at the time.
HIGH – Becomes the youngest player to play for England in February 2003 at 17 years and 111 days in a friendly defeat against Australia.
HIGH – Becomes the most expensive British teenager by joining Manchester United in 2004 in a deal that eventually rises to £27million.
LOW – Sent off in a Champions League draw at Villarreal in September 2005 after sarcastically clapping in the referee’s face.
LOW – Sent off in the World Cup 2006 quarter-final defeat to Portugal for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho. England went on to lose on penalties.
HIGH – Ends the 2007-08 campaign as both a Premier League and Champions League winner as United defeat Chelsea in Moscow.
HIGH – Signs five-year extension with United, just two days after saying he would not and wanted to leave in October 2010.
HIGH – Scores arguably his best United goal in February 2011, an overhead kick in the Manchester derby to give United a 2-1 victory.
LOW – Sent off in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro for a foul on Miodrag Dzudovic and banned for the first three games of the finals in Poland and Ukraine, subsequently reduced to two on appeal.
HIGH – Wins his 100th England cap in November 2014 and scores a penalty as England defeat Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifier.
HIGH – In September 2015, breaks Sir Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record with his 50th goal in a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Switzerland.
HIGH – Earns his 116th cap in September 2016 to make him England’s most-capped outfield player.
HIGH – Surpasses Charlton as United’s all-time record scorer by coming off the bench to net against Stoke in January 2017.
LOW – Receives two-year driving ban and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work in September 2017 after pleading guilty to a drink-driving charge.
LOW – In December 2018 is arrested for public intoxication at Washington’s Dulles airport after arriving on a flight from Saudi Arabia. Says he was left “disorientated” by taking prescribed sleeping tablets while drinking.
HIGH – Seals a deal to return from the US earlier than planned and become a player-coach at Derby from January 2020.
LOW – Made his frustrations about the MLS plain in a tweet bemoaning DC United’s unnecessary “12-hour travel day” – shortly after ranting at the fourth official during defeat at the Vancouver Whitecaps.
LOW – Is sent off during DC United’s MLS defeat to New York Red Bulls after a VAR review decreed he had elbowed Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr in the neck.
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