‘He looked like a new player’: Rio Ferdinand raves about Arsenal star

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand says Nicolas Pepe looks like "a new player" under Mikel Arteta

Rio Ferdinand
Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand (Photo: BT Sport)

Rio Ferdinand says Nicolas Pepe “looked like a new player” in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United at The Emirates on Wednesday night.

The Ivory Coast international produced one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt to help new manager Mikel Arteta record his first win in charge of the Gunners.

Pepe broke the deadlock in the eighth minute in north London after the summer signing seized on the loose ball to curl a finish past Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.

The 24-year-old had two shots on goal, completed four dribbles and finished with a 100 per cent pass competition rate in a dominant performance up against Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw.

Pepe has made a slow start to life at Arsenal following his club-record £72m move to the north London side from Ligue 1 outfit Lille in the summer transfer window.

Speaking to BT Sport after Pepe’s performance in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over their bitter rivals Manchester United on New Year’s Day, former Red Devils defender Ferdinand said: “Massive signing, hasn’t produced, today he looked like a new player.

“That comes from confidence from a manager, showing belief.

“He’s young, it’s youth, and I think he’s got time to work.

“It’s been well-documented how much influence Arteta had the likes of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling [at Manchester City], young wingers, Pepe falls into that category, can he improve?”

Arsenal are in tenth position and nine points adrift of Chelsea FC, who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.

The Gunners are a mere four points adrift of Manchester United despite their dreadful first half of the season.

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