Nicolas Pepe admitted after his match-winning cameo against Vitoria that he has struggled to deal with the big expectations that come with being Arsenal’s club-record signing.
But the winger, who scored two sumptuous free-kicks in the final 10 minutes on Thursday night to earn the Gunners a 3-2 win in the Europa League, stated that there is much more to come and thanked Unai Emery for the unwavering belief he has shown in him.
“Of course [I knew it would be harder],” said Pepe. “It is a league totally different to Ligue 1, with a different intensity.
“For me, I had to adapt quickly because expectations were high. Unfortunately, that is not what I did at the beginning but I have always had the manager’s trust and the players have supported me.
“I am not at my best physically because I didn’t have a proper pre-season like the others as I was at the Africa Cup of Nations. I am trying to work hard to be stronger physically to perform well and adapt to the Premier League”.
Going into Thursday night’s game with Vitoria, Pepe had scored just once for Arsenal in his first 11 appearances in all competitions.
But having been brought off the bench to replace Alexandre Lacazette with the Gunners trailing 2-1, he netted twice against the Portuguese side to snatch a dramatic victory for his side and ease the pressure on Emery.