Emery urges Pepe patience as Arsenal face up to Zaha

Nicolas Pepe will hope to build upon a promising midweek when Arsenal faces Crystal Palace and a notable former transfer target Wilfried Zaha.

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha was heavily linked with Arsenal in the summer transfer window.   -  Getty Images

Wilfried Zaha will be motivated to do damage against Arsenal on Sunday, Unai Emery has warned his players.

Crystal Palace winger Zaha was heavily linked with a move to Emirates Stadium during the close season but a reported £100million price tag ultimately saw the Gunners turn their attentions towards signing Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

Palace makes the short trip to north London this weekend, seeking to pile further domestic misery on Emery's men at the end of a week they began with a 1-0 loss at Sheffield United.

And the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss has little doubt over where the main danger lies, despite Zaha – a goalscorer in Palace's 3-2 win in last season's corresponding fixture – failing to find the net so far this term.

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"He's a very good player and he has made the difference in a lot of matches – against us, against other teams. And this year the same," Emery said of Zaha.

"For us it is [about] our players – our capacity, here at the Emirates. On Sunday, Crystal Palace are coming here feeling good. Zaha is a very good player and is coming here very motivated. Our challenge is how we can stop him but, above all, how we can battle them using our whole capacity."

Pepe's form has been patchy since becoming Arsenal's record signing but he was one of the few visiting players to emerge from Bramall Lane with some credit, before netting twice to seal Thursday's dramatic Europa League comeback win over Vitoria Guimaraes.

"We signed Pepe, not for two months or six months, or one year or two years. [We signed him] for a process with us," said Emery, whose side lie fifth in the Premier League – a point and a place above Palace.

"The process is coming, little by little, better for his performance and to help us with his quality.

"I don’t know if he is going to play or not on Sunday but he is going to be ready and also he is going to be more confident after the [Guimaraes] match."

Emery added: "We are very happy with Pepe and we know we are wanting more. But it is a process and I know we need patience and to be calm with him, help him and protect him because sometimes he can feel he is playing under pressure.

"For us and for me, when we are ready to play under pressure is when we can be better."

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