The fact that Mikel Arteta chose to name check Nicolas Pepe in his post-match interview after Arsenal had drawn 0-0 at Leeds United said everything about where the Spaniard thought much of the blame lay for the Gunners not earning all three points.
Digging your players out in public has never been a good look for any manager, but it puts a marker down with the playing staff as to who’s in charge.
Arteta continues to hold Arsenal in a vice-like grip. His way or the highway for anyone not willing to accede to certain standards.
However, whilst former Arsenal star, Michael Thomas, acknowledged that it was a silly reaction, he wasn’t interested in pinning all of the blame on the Frenchman.
“In regards to Pepe, it was a very silly reaction, all players know you can’t do that and ultimately he’s paid the price with the red card,” he told CaughtOffside in an exclusive interview.
“I have no doubt Arteta will have pulled him up about it. However, I don’t think that moment is to blame for Arsenal’s performance.
“Back when I played, the tussles were probably more common and you could likely get away with a lot more than you can now.”
Pepe’s actions appeared to born of frustration but that doesn’t excuse them. He can count himself fortunate that Arsenal didn’t go on to lose the match, thanks to the backs against the wall performance from his team-mates.
Whether Arteta, who perhaps hasn’t used Pepe as much as the player would like, decides to punish him further than the ban that will be incoming, will be found out in the coming days.