'It's unacceptable': Uproar over $130m star's 'disgraceful' act

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·Sports Reporter
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Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe (pictured right) shown a red card and Leeds United's midfielder Ezgjan Alioski (pictured left) in agony on the ground.
Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe (pictured right) was shown a red card after head butting Leeds United's midfielder Ezgjan Alioski (pictured left). (Getty Images)

Footballs fans have come out swinging after Arsenal’s $130 million signing was sent off for a head-butt on a rival in their draw against Leeds in the Premier League.

Arsenal held on for a 0-0 draw at Leeds after Nicolas Pepe was sent off for head-butting Ezgjan Alioski in a moment of madness, which coach Mikel Arteta labelled ‘unacceptable’.

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Pepe's mindless second-half dismissal left Arteta's side in trouble at Elland Road and they had to ride their luck to escape with a point.

Leeds hit the woodwork three times in the closing stages, but couldn't inflict a second successive defeat on Arsenal, whose problems mounted when Bukayo Saka limped off with a late injury.

Fans raged following Pepe’s dismissal, which had Arsenal on the back foot when they went down to 10 men.

Pepe’s price tag and struggles to break into the first team also appeared to frustrate fans, who claimed this was not the way to grab the opportunity.

Arsenal have won only one of their last five Premier League games and sit in 11th place, while Leeds are 14th after their third consecutive match without a win.

At the end of a week in which Arteta had to deal with a training ground row between Dani Ceballos and David Luiz, the Arsenal manager will be relieved his team showed some fighting spirit to keep Leeds at bay.

Pepe had an early sight of goal when the Ivory Coast winger twisted past Luke Ayling for a cross-shot that came back off the bar.

Patrick Bamford tested Bernd Leno with a powerful volley - one of 13 shots Leeds had as they dominated the first half without making the breakthrough.

Leeds United's midfielder Ezgjan Alioski (pictured left) reacts after clashing with Arsenal's midfielder Nicolas Pepe (pictured right), after which Pepe is sent off by English referee Anthony Taylor.
Leeds United's midfielder Ezgjan Alioski (pictured left) reacts after clashing with Arsenal's midfielder Nicolas Pepe (pictured right), after which Pepe is sent off by English referee Anthony Taylor. (Photo by MOLLY DARLINGTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been given a rare chance in the central striker's role, but he was largely anonymous and has scored just twice in his last nine games.

The Gunners were reduced to 10 men in the 51st minute when Pepe, frustrated by a previous clash with the Leeds player moments earlier, thrust his head into Alioski's face, sending him tumbling to the turf.

Referee Anthony Taylor went to check the pitchside monitor and showed Pepe a straight red.

Leeds substitute Rodrigo hit the bar with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Bamford also struck the woodwork with a glancing header before Raphinha's stoppage-time shot came back off a post to Arsenal's relief.

Everton hold on against Fulham

At Craven Cottage, Calvert-Lewin maintained his fine form to put Carlo Ancelotti's side ahead inside a minute.

Bobby Decordova-Reid equalised for Fulham, but England striker Calvert-Lewin netted again and Abdoulaye Doucoure got Everton's third before half-time.

Fulham's Ivan Cavaleiro sent a second-half penalty over the bar and, although Ruben Loftus-Cheek reduced the deficit, Everton held on to win for the first time in five league games.

After a three-game losing streak dented their bid to finish in the top four, Everton are up to sixth place.

with AP

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