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Arteta - Why I started Pepe on the left

Pepe

One of the tactical tweaks Mikel Arteta made for Tuesday's win over Southampton was to move Nicolas Pepe to the left wing.

The Ivory Coast international has featured predominantly on our right-hand side since joining us from Lille in 2019, so what was the thinking behind our manager's decision?

"It was a little bit of the game plan, of how [Southampton] play and how we could expose them a little bit more," Arteta told Arsenal Media. Nico's played on the right but played on the left today and I think he was really good. He looks much more settled and convincing. He looked more confident so overall I'm delighted.

"It was a really strong performance against a really good side. We started the game really strong, creating a big chance for Laca one against one with the keeper. He missed it and that was a big disappointment. Then at the other end of the pitch we conceded from a set-piece, but the team reacted the way we are.

"They played with a lot of confidence, a lot of resilience and being, in my opinion, better than the opponent. We attacked well, our build-up play was good, our attacking display in the opponent's box was really good, we were really good in the high press, defended well deep. Overall if you want to beat a team like Southampton, you have to be really good in those departments.

"We've been through very difficult moments and we have managed to maintain the spirit and the solidarity of the team, which is never easy when you lose football matches. That is there and that is growing. It's something that we have to fix every day.

"Everyone's confidence will adapt, whether you are playing or on the bench or injured. It's the same with the staff. For me it's the only way, to have that strong foundation and slowly get better as a team, get better individually and keep competing the way we're doing."

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