Arsenal were reduced to 10 men during their Premier League clash with Leeds United on Sunday.
The Gunners were hoping to shake off the inconsistent form that has saddled them throughout the 2020/21 campaign, winning at Old Trafford one minute, before losing 3-0 to Aston Villa the next.
However, Leeds have proven themselves to be a tough challenge under the lead of Marcelo Biesla this season following their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
Leeds United vs Arsenal
And Arsenal certainly didn’t find it easy during the early exchanges in Yorkshire, leading to criticism of Mikel Arteta’s tactics across social media as they limped to the half-time break at 0-0.
Arsenal even rolled the dice during the interval with Willian, who has looked poor since signing for Chelsea, being replaced by Reiss Nelson.
However, just as the north-Londoners were settling into their new system, they were knocked back with a devastating blow due to a, well, devastating blow from Nicolas Pepe.
Pepe sent off for headbutt
The club’s record-signing was rightfully dismissed for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski that was picked up by VAR in a moment that, with every headbutt in football, will remind fans of Zinedine Zidane.
Granted, we’re not talking about a heavy thump like the one that floored Marco Materazzi, but it’s hard to blame Alioski for going down when Pepe should have known much better.
You can check out the moment of madness down below:
What were you thinking, Nicolas!?
What provoked Pepe?
Now, of course, we can’t judge the situation in its entirety until we know what prompted Pepe to act so aggressively and it’s clear that Alioski must have done something to provoke the response.
However, if for nothing else other than Arsenal’s chances of winning, Pepe should have known to keep his cool in the moment and exact revenge, if it indeed that was necessary, on the pitch.
Besides, Pepe’s dismissal compounds what has been a tough second season for the Ivorian who, despite flashes of brilliance in cup competitions, has flattered to deceive in the Premier League.
The former Lille forward now boasts the unwanted statistic of having produced as many red cards as goals and assists during Arsenal’s 2020/21 league campaign with a grand total of one.
But let’s just say we haven’t seen the last of this fascinating story that had such a dramatic conclusion…