Mikel Arteta has to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if he wants to retain the “respect” of his Arsenal squad, according to Martin Keown.
The forward put in a dire performance as the Gunners were humbled 3-0 by Liverpool on Saturday.
Arteta’s side barely threatened and were well beaten as their slim European hopes took yet another hit.
Aubameyang’s form has been a talking point for much of the season and his manager has shown a willingness to drop him, albeit for disciplinary reasons.
But Keown believes the Gabon forward must be replaced by Gabriel Martinelli, who has remained on the bench recently.
“Arteta has a big decision to make on his captain,” he told the Daily Mail.
“He set an example by dropping Aubameyang for the north London derby recently. Aubameyang was supposed to start against Spurs but turned up late and was pulled.
“Should Arteta not be dropping him for performing as poorly as he did against Liverpool? If he sticks with him, he risks losing the respect of the group.
“It’s time to bring in 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli. He is too good to be sitting on the bench.”
The young Brazilian is a favourite among Arsenal fans and enjoyed an excellent debut season.
This term his efforts have been disrupted by injuries and he’s made just 12 appearances thus far.
Martinelli came on to replace Aubameyang at the Emirates on Saturday and Keown wants that change from the start.
“His team-mates see him in training and know what he can do,” he added. “They will be baffled by his continued absence. I know I am.”
“Use him on the left. Use Bukayo Saka on the right. Start Emile Smith Rowe. Then you’ll have a team who can pose problems for the opposition. There were too many passengers against Liverpool.”