NICOLAS PEPE was slammed by Mikel Arteta for headbutting Leeds defender Ezgjan Alioski in Arsenal’s fiery 0-0 draw at Elland Road.
The Gunners winger was clearly frustrated with the North Macedonia star during the clash.
Nicolas Pepe was sent off for a stupid headbutt on Ezgjan AlioskiCredit: Reuters
Arsenal’s record signing was caught out by the video replays at Elland RoadCredit: Sky Sports
And with the ball elsewhere, he confronted Alioski and stupidly pushed his head into his opponent’s forehead five minutes into the second half.
The Leeds man went down clutching his head with Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson on the ball.
Referee Anthony Taylor blew his whistle to stop play after not seeing the incident live.
Replays later on the half showed Pepe and Alioski tussling a few minutes prior to the red-card incident.
And the next time they came back together, they both pushed out their arms before Pepe took the bait.
Gary Neville, on co-commentary for Sky Sports, called the action: “It’s Pepe and Alioski. Has Pepe reacted? He’s wandering back towards the Leeds man.
“Oh… he might be in a bit of trouble. Yes, he’s in trouble.
Replays showed the winger throw his head into the forehand of his opponentCredit: Sky Sports
Anthony Taylor only needed a brief look at the VAR monitorCredit: Reuters
“He’s reacted to the initial contact and Alioski just stands his ground and the head comes towards him. He’s done.”
Pepe had no complaints when the red card was brandished and trudged off the pitch and up the steps back to the away dressing room.
The decision came in the 51st minute, giving Arsenal 40 minutes to battle away with ten men against Marcelo Bielsa’s energetic side.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta branded Pepe ‘unacceptable’ and accused him of ‘letting the team down’.
He said: “It is unacceptable. Unacceptable. At this level you cannot do it.
“With ten men it is a big disadvantage. I really liked the personality of the team when Pepe let the team down, how we stuck to do what we had to do and had a moment or two to win the game, but obviously it makes it really difficult.”
And Patrice Evra also let rip at the idiotic move.
He said: “Pepe should say sorry to all his team-mates, because Arsenal had to change their plans after that.
Pepe and Alioski had a coming together just minutes before the red-card incidentCredit: Sky Sports
The Leeds man went down clutching his face and made sure there was a VAR reviewCredit: AFP
Pepe could have no complaints as he was given his marching ordersCredit: Reuters
“Alioski deserves an Oscar… he looked like he’d broken his nose or something.
“But it’s really silly from Pepe. When you’re not playing a lot, and you do that when they gave you a chance, don’t cry if you’re not playing the next games.”
Asked whether Pepe had apologised, Hector Bellerin said: “These things stay in the changing room.
“After the game everyone has a lot of adrenaline and these things need to wait until later in the week.”
The Gunners did hold on for a 0-0 draw – and rode their luck as Leeds hit the woodwork multiple times.
And tempers flared after the full-time whistle with Kieran Tierney seemingly venting his anger at Alioski after they clashed towards just before the end of the match.
The Scottish left-back was held back by team-mates and backroom staff before eventually being ushered away.
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Tempers flared after the full-time whistle between Alioski and Kieran TierneyCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Pepe trudged up the steps back to the away dressing room for the final 40 minutesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
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