Mikel Arteta challenges Arsenal star to fight for his position ahead of visit to Crystal Palace


Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is determined to create an environment that will enable players to thrive but is counting on everyone to push the limits and return the club to it’s rightful place.

The Gunners have surprised many and are now mightily close to securing Champions League football if they can hold their nerves and continue putting away teams.

Not many saw this coming after they lost their first three games of the season and were bottom of the league at the start of the season.

Since then, the recruitment and atmosphere has changed with Arteta just being named the Premier League Manager of the month for March.

Players like Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey are flying but big money signing Nicolas Pepe who started the club’s first six games has had to mostly watch on from the bench.

The Ivory Coast international reminded everyone of his brilliance when he stepped off the bench to score and assist in the game against Wolves to ensure the Gunners continued their fine form, but minutes continue to be gold dust for the forward.

Inside reports says Pepe’s training has improved and Arteta is aware that the forward is itching to play a main role in what is left of the season.

He was brilliant for Ivory Coast during the international break, and with two years left on his current contract the former Lille man is running out of time to demonstrate why Arsenal splashed club record £72 million on him.

But Arteta says he wants him to continue doing his talking on the pitch and opportunities will come at some point.

The Spanish manager added: “I don’t want to find players that have the complacency to say I accept that situation.

“They have to rebuild to that situation and if they cannot get in the team they have to get the player that is playing to a different level and help the team more. And when you have that opportunity you have to take it.”

The Gunners have profited from not being in Europe and being out of the FA Cup with Mikel Arteta’s side now massive favourites to go on and secure Champions League football despite the growing form of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.