Quotes

Pepe on free-kicks, confidence, Auba and Laca

There were plenty of questions for Nicolas Pepe following his match-winning performance against Vitoria on Thursday night.

The Ivory Coast international stopped in the mixed zone after the game to speak to the gathered press - and this is what he said.

GROWING IN CONFIDENCE

"Scoring two goals is good for the confidence. The most important though is that there is a win at the end. It shows our mental strength and our character. We had already done it against Aston Villa where we were behind and came back. Now, we can focus on the Crystal Palace game which will arrive very quickly.

"We had a tough start to the game, conceding early. It was not easy for us. We reacted quickly but unfortunately we conceded a second goal. We had to chase the game during 40 minutes. I managed to score the first free kick then the second and it’s good for the team and for myself.

"I wasn't surprised by how well Vitoria played. They started well. We knew that they were going to be aggressive and that they would start strongly. It was down to us to react. Unfortunately, we didn’t do quickly enough. We managed to come back into it though to win it."

Missing media.

SETTLING IN

"The manager trusts me. Even if I hadn’t been decisive for a while, I always had the manager’s trust. It is always important to have the manager’s faith.

"It has been hard to keep my confidence high. I knew it would be harder. It is a league totally different to Ligue 1. With a different intensity. For me, I had to adapt quickly because expectations were high.

"Unfortunately, it is not what I did at the beginning but I have always had the manager’s trust and the players have supported me. I keep working hard to perform well and adapt to the Premier League.

Nicolas Pepe and Unai Emery

"The key is to have good people around you. I have my family here with me so I could be good mentally, especially when things are not going well. I rely a lot on them. For me, it was always going to be difficult to come here in the unknown, with a different language. So have my family with me is important.

"I am not at my best physically because I didn't have a proper pre-season like the others. I was at the Africa Cup of Nations. I started little by little and the manager knew about it. I am trying to work hard to be stronger physically to perform well."

AUBA, LACA AND PEPE

"We have played very little together, maybe just around 30 minutes. But we get on well, we are all French. For us, it is to understand each other. I hope we will play more together.

"Auba let me take a penalty against Aston Villa. Now I take the free-kick but he has also scored one. We will talk about it to  decide who will take them.

"As soon as I arrived in London Auba and Laca helped me. I talked a lot to them. Matteo too. I also manage to talk to the other players because it is important to learn the language to communicate with everyone."

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