Mikel Arteta reveals Nicolas Pepe played in Arsenal’s win over Wolves less than 24 HOURS after welcoming his second child… with Ivorian dedicating late equaliser to newborn son
- Nicolas Pepe came off the bench to net equaliser in Arsenal’s win over Wolves
- The Ivorian then played the pass leading to the winner after Jose Sa’s own goal
- Pepe welcomed the arrival of his second child less than 24 hours beforehand
- But Pepe texted Mikel Arteta in the early hours to confirm he wanted to play
Nicolas Pepe played a huge part in Arsenal’s win against Wolves fewer than 24 hours after his wife gave birth to their second child, Mikel Arteta has revealed.
The Ivorian replaced Gabriel Martinelli in the 71st minute with the Gunners trailing 1-0, but went on to score the equaliser 11 minutes later for his first Premier League goal of the season.
The £72million club-record signing then played the pass into Alexandre Lacazette, whose deflected effort saw the Gunners grab a dramatic 95th-minute winner at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Nicolas Pepe played in Arsenal’s win against Wolves less than 24 hours after his wife welcomed their second child
Pepe came off the bench to net the equaliser with eight minutes remaining on Thursday
The goal was later awarded as an own goal from Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa, but delighted Gunners boss Arteta cared little and said Pepe texted him early on Thursday morning saying he wanted to play despite welcoming his second son not long beforehand.
‘Pepe had a baby last night,’ Arteta told talkSPORT.
‘At 2-3am he texted me and said ”yes I want to come and help the team”.
‘These things happen and it is not a coincidence, it is because the togetherness and the unity is in there.’
The Ivorian then played the pass which saw Alexandre Lacazette’s effort deflect in off Jose Sa
Ivory Coast winger Pepe also posted on social media after the win, captioning a picture of him celebrating the equaliser: ‘In honour of my son. Welcome E’ followed by a love heart emoji and a hashtag of his initials and the No 19 he wears at Arsenal.
Pepe’s wife, Fanny B, gave birth to their first son in July 2020 but the pair have chosen not to reveal the boy’s name for the time being.
Speaking to Arsenal’s official website, Arteta added: ‘I see a different Nico. I don’t know, it’s his energy, his happiness, his all-around play, how he’s training, I was convinced that he could come in and do something for the team.’
Asked whether Pepe’s performance could see him earn a regular spot in the squad, Arteta said: ‘He’s on the right path and when you’re able to do that and contribute to the team, you’re going to get more minutes.
‘The more minutes you have, you need to make the most out of them in training every single day and show what you can do. He has the ability to do it, that’s for sure.’
Mikel Arteta (right) said Pepe texted him at 3am telling him he wanted to play in the game
Arteta’s comments come after a recent press conference in which he reiterated the same point about Pepe following the winger’s return from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
‘Since he has come back, I have seen a different Nico,’ Arteta said ahead of the win against Brentford last weekend. ‘I don’t know what it is, probably he has realised the importance of the end of the season for him.
‘His attitude, his smile, the way he is communicating with everybody, his energy. The way he has trained. His efficiency in training. His application.
‘His energy has changed. I think he felt important again. Probably he felt like a proper football player that can win tournaments and felt ”ok, this is me now”.
‘He needed that and I’m really pleased with that.’
Pepe and his wife Fanny B (right) gave birth to their first child (left) in the summer of 2020