Former Arsenal stars Martin Keown and Robin van Persie have both predicted Nicolas Pepe will make it big for the club after Thursday night’s turning point against Vitoria.
Pepe scored twice from two superb free-kicks for Arsenal in their Europa League win over Vitoria, helping them come from 2-1 down to win 3-2 late on at the Emirates Stadium.
The Ivory Coast international badly needed his two goals tonight, and fans will now hope this means he can start to perform with the confidence that made him such an unplayable talent during his time at previous club Lille.
Speaking after the game, BT Sport pundits Keown and Van Persie, both quoted by the Daily Mirror, were united in thinking this could be a big moment for Pepe that could see him really launch his Arsenal career at last.
Other Arsenal legends such as Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry were also notably slow to get going for the Gunners, but ended up becoming all-time greats for the club, and many will hope Pepe now looks capable of doing something similar.
“Every player needs that moment, that turning point,” Keown said.
“Even for the Bergkamps, the Henry’s, Robin (van Persie) himself.
“To settle, and hopefully now Arsenal can see what they paid for.”
Van Persie added: “I’m really happy for him. You can see what it does for him, even after the first free-kick.
“You could see he just became lively and happy, and he was making all sorts of movements and skills.
“Then it’s great for him, even to score the winner as well.
“I’m pretty sure that after tonight you will see a different Pepe to the last couple of months.”