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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’s Nicolas Pepe is sent off for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski 😳 pic.twitter.com/5GrWsv9oEP
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 22, 2020
Pepe is an absolute disgrace. Total moron for doing that. He’s struggling to get games as it is and then he goes and does that. Arteta was livid after and rightly so.
— Andrew (@artetandrew) November 22, 2020
Arsenal finally getting some consistency from Pepe as he gets himself banned for the next three games
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) November 22, 2020
Pepe was a disgrace today! I wonder whether it was a mistake getting him on board?
— John Obi (@johnObi60) November 22, 2020
🗣️ Mikel Arteta on Nicolas Pepe being sent off:
🤔 "No excuse, It's unacceptable"pic.twitter.com/1gCPI3kmka
— The Arsenal Review (@thearsreview) November 22, 2020
10000000000% unacceptable behaviour. A great opportunity for Pepe today to show why he should be starting. I feel let down by him today big time. https://t.co/lDogH6tFVp
— RohanJivan (@RjArsenalBlog) November 22, 2020
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.
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.
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