Nicolas Pepe doing individual training work to help him adapt to life at Arsenal

Press Association Sport 09:02 22/09/2019
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Nicolas Pepe is doing individual training work to help him adapt to life at Arsenal.

The Ivory Coast international joined from Lille over the summer having scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season.

Pepe has since started three of Arsenal’s six games at the start of the campaign and is yet to show why the Gunners paid a reported £72million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.

Gunners head coach Unai Emery has used the 24-year-old as a second striker alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in two games, a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool and last week’s 2-2 draw away to Watford.

Now the Spaniard admits he and his coaching staff are working closely with Pepe to speed up his adjustment in the hope he can impress against Aston Villa on Sunday.

“He needs to adapt,” said Emery. “He is playing well but progressively we know there is going to be more from him to help us and I want him to take the last step quickly in adapting for us.

“We are working with him – after training we are watching individual videos with him.

“He is playing well but also we need in our organisation to be strong with every player to improve a lot.”

Emery and his players faced plenty of criticism after letting a two-goal half-time lead slip at Vicarage Road – where they were lucky to leave with a share of the spoils.

But, after making seven alterations, Arsenal impressed in a 3-0 Europa League victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night.

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Emery concedes he ultimately has to deliver for the club’s supporters but insists he is never too reactive to a result.

“When we are winning I stay calm, when we are losing I stay calm,” he added.

“I want to win more than lose and really I want to be consistent in our way and in our steps ahead. We know each match is very important because we have a lot of supporters in London, England and also worldwide.

“We know our responsibility and we know we want to give them very good moments, we want to give them special moments and feel connected with us because it is not only how we can win, it is also how we can play and how we can give them our energy, our capacity, our skills and enjoy each match with us.”

Pepe came off the bench in Frankfurt and is likely to be recalled to the starting line-up against Villa as Alexandre Lacazette remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Fit-again Rob Holding will be pushing for his first appearance since December 2018 while full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney – signed from Celtic in the summer – both played a little over an hour in an under-23 fixture against Wolves on Friday night as they step up their respective comebacks.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will ease Man United youngsters into Premier League action

Press Association Sport 23:16 21/09/2019
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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the club’s young talents will be given a chance to prove themselves in the Premier League when the time is right.

Mason Greenwood, 17, scored as a youthful United beat Astana in their opening Europa League fixture at Old Trafford.

Midfielders Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes were also handed first starts as United named their youngest European line-up since 2012.

United return to Premier League action at West Ham on Sunday, where Solskjaer is expected to revert to his regulars, although Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw remain sidelined.

“Expectation is different now, all of the eyes are on them,” Solskjaer said on Sky Sports Saturday.

“Some of the boys can feel the heat, but we have got to try to protect them and find the right moment to put them in, give them guidance back behind closed doors.

“Social media and the media (in general) is different now, the limelight will be on them, so we will just try to guide them as much as we can. The back-up support here is great.

“They are almost ready, that is why they are with us in training, but it is a different matter playing for Man United when you go into the Premier League with big games.

“We have got a young squad, they don’t really have too many old ones to play behind.

“The young boys, though, you will see them enough. More in the Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, when it comes, once in a while you will see them in the Premier League – maybe tomorrow, we don’t know yet.”

United have also been boosted by goalkeeper David De Gea signing a new contract until 2023.

Solskjaer hopes the Spaniard and summer signing Harry Maguire can help the club “build from the back”.

The Norweigan said: “We know we are in the starting phase of a new team, there are many players who have come and gone, now there are some youngsters coming in.

“We know we are one or two players light at he moment because of injuries, but that is a chance for the kids to play and for me as well to see if I can get the best out of them.”

Solskjaer accepts the Premier League is now “a different animal” from when he was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.

However, the ambition for a return to that sustained period of success remains.

“Champions League is a target of course, and when we get to the end of the season if we can challenge for trophies,” he said.

“We want to be in and around, hopefully, for the Europa League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup and move up the table in the Premier League.

“Last season, sixth was disappointing after such a great run we had just after Christmas.

“I think if we can get the consistency, then I think we will get closer to the top two and let’s hope we challenge for other trophies.”

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Man City a “joy to watch” against Watford, says Pep Guardiola

Press Association Sport 21:58 21/09/2019
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Pep Guardiola called rampant Manchester City a “joy to watch” after his side ripped apart Watford in record-breaking fashion and racked up an 8-0 win.

Last weekend’s shock loss to Norwich is now far in the rear-view mirror, thanks to the midweek Champions League triumph at Shakhtar Donetsk being followed up by the club’s biggest ever top-flight victory.

Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick was complemented by efforts David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and star man Kevin De Bruyne as Watford fell to their heaviest ever league defeat.

The key to the victory was five goals in a remarkable 18 opening minutes and City eventually finished just short of Manchester United’s Premier League record 9-0 defeat of Ipswich in 1995.

“It is weird, it is not normal,” Guardiola said of his side’s start at the Etihad Stadium. “Five shots, five goals.

“In the same time we gave them two chances to score two goals that we were lucky in this time it didn’t happen when in the past it sometimes happened.

“But the quality of the players up front made the difference, so the quality that we have is a joy to watch.

“After 5-0, the game is completely different. Analyse after that, the mood one team, the mood the other team. The relaxation you play with, the tension they play with, so it’s difficult to say.

“We were ruthless in terms of five shots, five goals. Sometimes we shoot 25 times or 15 or 20 and you cannot do it.

“So, after the Champions League and a huge trip back home, no time to prepare, rest and everything.

“It was a lovely day for all of us, for our City fans, a lovely day in the sunshine and a lot of goals.”

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