Nicolas Pepe admits he has had a tough start to Arsenal career - and highlights areas he must improve

Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe has admitted that his start to life at Arsenal has been a "bit negative".

The former Lille winger moved to the Emirates Stadium in a £72m deal in the summer, but he has struggled to reproduce the form that earned him a big-money move to the Premier League.

Pepe has scored one goal and provided two assists in the Premier League, and the attacker has acknowledged that he must do better in the coming months.

And the Ivory Coast international has also spoken out on Unai Emery's departure.

“It was painful because he is a coach who gave me the chance to come to Arsenal. We mustn’t forget that. For me, it was something painful,” he told RMC Sport.

“I would say that my start has been a bit negative. Based on my own expectations of myself, I expected a bit more. I expect more and it is up to me to work hard and make the difference in each match.

“It is normal for people to criticise me as much as they are doing because I am not making the difference in each match. I understand them. It is certainly up to me to reverse this situation through hard work.

“There are lots of aspects that I need to improve. Score more quickly, take the opportunities to score that I’ve been missing. It’s like that, that’s football. I also need to improve on the physical aspect because coming from France to England, there is this box-to-box aspect that you have to take into account.”

Freddie Ljungberg replaced Emery as Arsenal boss on an interim basis, but he is still awaiting his first win in the role.

And despite Thursday's home loss to Brighton, Pepe believes Ljungberg has had a positive impact on the Gunners squad.

As he was a player, he understands us better. He speaks a lot with us, so for us it is quite simple for us to understand him like for him it is quite easy to understand us,” he said.

“Right now there are some players who are playing others who are not. That’s football, it’s like that. It is the coach who decides. If I am on the bench, it is up to me to put the work in to get back in the starting XI."

Arsenal will be looking to close the gap separating them from the top four when they face West Ham on Monday.

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