Unai Emery drops Nicolas Pepe selection hint ahead of Watford vs Arsenal

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Unai Emery is hopeful Nicolas Pepe will be fit enough to play a starring role for Arsenal against Watford on Sunday.

The club’s record signing has shown flashes of huge potential during the opening weeks of the new season following his £72million move from Lille.

Pepe caught the eye, in particular, during the recent defeat against Liverpool at Anfield, providing the usually unflappable Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson with several uncomfortable moments.

The 24-year-old has already operated as a conventional winger and a support striker as Emery continues to tinker with his system and make alterations to his starting line-ups depending on the opposition.

Arsenal confirmed on Friday that Alexandre Lacazette would be out of action until October with a persistent ankle injury, which could force Emery to deploy Pepe in the role he filled at Anfield on Sunday alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Pepe was sent home early from international duty by Ivory Coast last week, but Emery his confident his major summer signing will feature at Vicarage Road.

‘We decided to keep him here with us [during the international break] & we were working with him to have him ready for Sunday & we think he will be. It is a small problem.

Where is it? I don’t know exactly.’ Watford have taken only a single point from their opening four matches this season and last weekend parted company with Javi Gracia, who was instantly replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores, who coached the Hornets during the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.

Responding to the managerial change at Watford, Emery said: ‘They finished with Javi Gracia, they did a very great season last year and now they signed a very great coach also with Quique Sanchez Flores.

‘I think now he’s going to know the team, the players and he knows some players because he trained them three years ago and I think he is also going to be good also.

‘I really respect every coach. I think now with Quique Sanchez Flores, they are going to continue working well like they were doing with Javi Gracia.

‘We are going to respect them and prepare for the match thinking of us in the beginning and after, respecting them with their characteristics.

‘After, some things can change. Watford are going to be the same in their great spirit like a team and also they are going to push a lot in Watford with their supporters. They have very good players.’

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