Nicolas Pepe sending off: Arsenal's Kieran Tierney may have felt 'incensed' by Granit Xhaka


It’s fair to say Nicolas Pepe is yet to show everyone why Arsenal spent £72 million on him back in the summer of 2019.

The winger has scored 11 goals in 54 appearances for the club and is struggling to play consistently for the Gunners.

And he certainly didn’t do his Arsenal career any favours with a moment of madness during his side’s 0-0 draw against Leeds on Sunday.

During the second half, Pepe pushed his head towards Ezgjan Alioski during an off-ball incident with VAR sending-off the Ivorian.

The 51st-minute incident saw the chances of Mikel Arteta’s side coming away with all three points diminish as they held out for a 0-0 draw at Elland Road.

Arteta insisted that Pepe’s actions were “unacceptable.”

While Pepe was stupid and naive, many Arsenal fans will feel Alioski got their player sent off by going down far too easily,

That’s clearly what Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney thought as he confronted Alioski at full-time for his role in Pepe’s sending off.

While he was clearly annoyed at Alioski, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown feels Tierney may also have been “incensed” by teammate Granit Xhaka’s actions.


Xhaka was talking to Alioski when Tierney came over at full-time and, after the Scot lost his cool, the Arsenal midfielder pushed him away and appeared to protect the Leeds man instead.

"Tierney might have felt incensed to see Xhaka with his arm around Alioski at the end of the game after what had happened,” Keown said in the Daily Mail.

“I would have certainly felt like that if I’d seen one of my teammates practically fraternising with the enemy.

"Xhaka then pushed Tierney away from the situation when he tried to confront Alioski."

Arsenal fans are in no two minds other which player they’re backing:

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On Match of the Day 2, BBC pundit Danny Murphy agreed with Arteta that Pepe’s headset was ‘unacceptable’ but also felt that Alioski got him dismissed.

"It is ridiculous to do it full stop," Murphy said.

"There was a little bit of argy-bargy, but nothing to warrant a headbutt. That’s normal, you are trying to get tight. He’s a good player, [Nicolas] Pepe, and [Ezgjan] Alioski is going to try and get after him and make it uncomfortable.

"Again, there is a little coming together, but I don't know why there is this reaction. He has let himself down, let the team down, and Arteta is right, it is unacceptable.


"But what is also unacceptable for me, is Alioski's response. Going over when he didn't have to, that wasn't enough to put him on his back, and too often now, we see players trying to stitch up other players.

"I know you will get some people saying that is normal now, but that's not normal to me and that is why Kieran Tierney, an honest lad, is fuming.

"If he [Alioski] hadn’t gone down today, would Pepe have been sent off? It’s the same principle with the penalties, if you don't go down, you don't get a penalty.

"That's why players are doing it. If they had just come together with their heads, I don't think he would have been sent off. That's why it is happening and I don’t like to see it."

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