Martin Keown is hopeful Nicolas Pepe’s match-winning Europa League brace is the ‘turning point’ for the winger at Arsenal.
The Ivory Coast international has struggled to make an impact at the Emirates since his club-record £72m move from Lille this summer, scoring just once – from the penalty spot – in 11 appearances.
The pressure further increased on the 24-year-old following Monday night’s clash at Sheffield United, Pepe spurning a simple opportunity during the disappointing defeat at Bramall Lane.
However, Pepe delivered a timely reminder of why he was so highly coveted on Thursday night, coming off the bench to curl home two superb free-kicks late on to secure a 3-2 victory over Portugal’s Vitoria Guimaraes for Unai Emery’s side.
Former Arsenal defender Keown believes that Pepe’s performance will help ease the pressure as he continues to adapt to the Premier League, and says he is hopeful the forward’s double could be the “turning point” in his Arsenal career.
Keown told BT Sport: “Every player needs that moment, that turning point.
“Even for the Bergkamp’s, the Henry’s, Robin (van Persie) himself.
“To settle, and hopefully now Arsenal can see what they paid for.
“£72m was seeming very expensive until tonight.
“But this is just the start hopefully, and how he takes it forward, he runs with freedom, he can express himself.
“I think, basically, he’s kind of got that off his back now, that pressure, and he can release himself now and play.”
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