Nicolas Pépé apologized to the fans, his teammates, his coach, and Arsenal in a post on his personal Instagram page on Monday for his, as Mikel Arteta put it, “unacceptable” headbutt of Leeds player Ezgjan Alioski that earned him a straight red card. Presumably, Pépé has apologized in person to his teammates, but according Hector Bellerin’s postmatch comments, that’s an internal matter and will remain behind closed doors.
Honestly, I don’t think he needed to apologize to the fans, but I understand why he did. What’s important is that he has apologized to his teammates and Mikel Arteta, and that they’ve accepted his apology. They’re all professionals, so I’d wager they’ve been in similar situations where their emotions got the better of them. I’m not concerned about lingering issues in the locker room as a result.
There may, however, be additional internal discipline on the way. You could tell that Mikel Arteta was extremely unhappy with Pépé from his postgame comments, and we know that Arteta is a stickler for discipline. We won’t have to wait long to find out. We’ll know when Arsenal release the traveling squad and the matchday roster for Thursday’s Europa League tilt with Molde, based on whether Pépé’s name is on the list. Either way, he’ll will miss the next three Premier League matches.
It’s also important that Pépé learn from his mistake and that it doesn’t happen again. We’ll have to wait and see whether he lets his emotions get the better of him again.
Not that it really matters, but I’m willing to move past this one — as they say, every dog gets one free bite. And who knows, maybe this bit of adversity is the jolt Pépé needs to propel him to bigger and better things at Arsenal.