(Reuters) – Arsenal’s record signing Nicolas Pepe is ready to make his first Premier League start against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, manager Unai Emery said.
Pepe, who arrived from Lille for a reported 72 million pounds this summer, has come off the bench in both Arsenal’s league matches this season.
The Ivory Coast international impressed the home supporters with intricate passes against Burnley as he continues to build understanding with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“The most important thing is, like a person, to help him and his family to feel comfortable here,” Emery told a news conference on Thursday.
“Now he is three weeks into working here with us. He didn’t do the pre-season here but he’s progressively feeling better. For example, in the first match, he played 15 minutes in Newcastle, then he played 45 minutes against Burnley.
“For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes. I am going to decide on Friday, but really his progress has been positive and has been good for the team and for him.”
Liverpool are the early league leaders after consecutive wins over Norwich City and Southampton, while Arsenal are second on goal difference after beating Newcastle United and Burnley.
Emery confirmed Arsenal will make late calls on the fitness of midfielders Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka ahead of their trip to Anfield, where they lost 5-1 last season.
Ozil, who is yet to feature in this campaign, has been absent due to illness while Xhaka has been struggling with a leg injury.
“We will assess them tomorrow. Today they trained but I need tomorrow to have the last training,” Emery added.
“I’m positive with some players, but I don’t want to decide today or say to you today because tomorrow things may change.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)