Nicolas Pepe broke the deadlock with a coolly taken penalty during Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Bramall lane and he was a thorn in the side of Sheffield United all afternoon.
With the Gunners’ usual penalty taker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang benched for the FA Cup quarter-final, boss Mikel Arteta had evidently granted Pepe spot kick duties.
And after Alexandre Lacazette was felled just inside the penalty area, the Ivorian stepped up and despatched his shot past Dean Henderson with ease.
Aubameyang has been Arsenal’s spot kick taker since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 but with him out of contract next season, could Arteta stick with Pepe instead?
Aubameyang has scored 26 penalties throughout his career since stepping up for Saint-Etienne for the first time in the 2012/13 season.
However, he has missed nine of his attempts in the past, which includes his poor penalty in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw against north London rivals Tottenham in March 2019.
Pepe’s scoring ratio from 12 yards is far more impressive, as has only ever missed one of his 14 penalties and that came in January 2019 when he failed to find the net against Amiens.
The Ivory Coast international is starting to show why Arsenal shelled out £72m on him last summer and he looks set to grow into a big player for the club over the coming seasons.
Speaking about the former Lille player following his fine performance against the Blades, Arteta said: “I really liked him from past. I didn’t know him personally but I think he’s a player with incredible potential.
“He needs to just be decisive in every game and take care of moments in the game when he disconnects himself a little bit, he cannot do that and I will be very persistent with him to try to change that because if he’s at his best he’s a player that can make a difference for the team.”
Arsenal have been drawn to face Manchester City in their FA Cup semi-final, with Manchester United and Chelsea meeting in the other tie at Wembley.