Mikel Arteta challenges Nicolas Pepe to be Arsenal’s star player every week after Man of the Match display in Molde win

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ARSENAL boss Mikel Arteta has challenged Nicolas Pepe to become his star player every week after the winger’s Man of the Match display in Molde.

Record £72million signing Pepe is banned for the Gunners’ next three Premier League games after being sent off for a headbutt at Leeds last Sunday.

Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB

Mikel Arteta admitted he was ‘really pleased’ with Nicolas Pepe’s performance[/caption]

But the Ivorian signed off in style with the opening goal in last night’s 3-0 win in Norway.

Arteta warned: “We all know what Nico is capable of but the question all the time is how often he can get to that level and how he contributes to other aspects of the game.

“This was an example of the standard he needs to hit and from there he needs to keep improving.

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“But I am really pleased with his performance.

“After the disappointment of Sunday, I wanted to see a really quick reaction — and I could tell from his body language that was ready to act from the first minute.

“He scored one goal and could have scored another two. He created some great moments.

“He can go inside or outside, he can shoot, he can cross and can go in behind as well.

Getty Images – Getty

Mikel Arteta’s side thumped Molde 3-0 in the Europa League[/caption]

“I really liked what I saw from him and that’s what I expect from him.”

Arteta was pleased with his youngsters including Folarin Balogun, who scored his first Arsenal goal just 37 seconds after coming on as a late sub.

He said: “I wanted to surround them with senior players, then I can assess whether they have the ability and personality to play for this club.”

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