EPL: Arteta reveals why he snubbed Pepe for Nketiah against Everton

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, has insisted Eddie Nketiah deserved to play ahead of Nicolas Pepe.

Arteta stated this while answering questions from reporters following a 2-1 defeat at Everton on Monday night.

Martin Odegaard had given the Gunners the lead before half time, but second-half goals from Richarlison and Demarai Gray secured maximum points for the hosts.

Arteta opted to leave both captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and £72million signing Pepe out of his starting XI for the match, with Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette preferred.

After Martinelli picked up an injury in the 71st minute, the Arsenal manager decided to bring on contract rebel Nketiah to play on the wing.

The 22-year-old, who is expected to leave as a free agent next year, missed a great chance to put the Gunners back in the lead with the scores still level.

Many fans felt either Pepe – who has only played five minutes in the last seven Premier League games – or Aubameyang would have buried the chance, but Arteta defended his decision afterwards.

Asked why Pepe has not been involved as much recently, Arteta replied: “Because I decided to play Eddie today, to bring him on.

“He created three chances and hit the post in the space of 25 minutes I think.”

Probed further on the decision to pick Nketiah over Pepe, Arteta responded: “He does everything in training what you saw him do in 25 minutes here. Every single day. That’s why I picked him.”

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