Forward scored vital goal against West Ham when Arsenal’s frontline offered a glimpse of stand-in manager’s vision

One flourish of the left foot and, for a few days at least, everything else could be forgotten. Nicolas Pépé’s adaptation to the Premier League has been uncertain and, in truth, nobody could really have envied him the introductory few months he has endured at a troubled Arsenal. It must have felt like being asked to parachute safely on to the north face of Everest; in which case the telling slalom through West Ham’s ever-obliging defence, and the rich oxygen its denouement breathed into both his campaign and that of his team, could hardly have seemed a more blessed relief.

Pépé had not scored for Arsenal in open play before flashing a 66th-minute finish beyond David Martin to give them a comeback lead and, from a state of dejection and disarray, put a flame under Freddie Ljungberg’s tenure. It has been easy to question the wisdom of the £72m fee paid to Lille for the Ivorian; it says plenty for Pépé, though, that as he shaped to shoot there seemed only one outcome. He has beautiful shooting technique on his favoured side and, given a rare chance to prove the point, shone the brightest of lights where there had been none.

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