The Gunners boss says he has held “really positive” talks with the Gabon striker after his disciplinary breach at the weekend
Mikel Arteta says the internal issue involving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been “resolved” but has warned that the forward must earn his place back in the Arsenal team.
Aubameyang was left on the bench for Sunday’s north London derby clash with Tottenham after breaching pre-match protocols, with the Gunners subsequently earning an impressive 2-1 victory in his absence.
The Gunners boss has revealed that the striker won’t face any further punishment ahead of the Europa League meeting with Olympiacos, but stopped short of confirming whether he will play a part in the second leg tie.
What has been said?
Asked if he has closed the matter with Aubemayang behind the scenes, Arteta told his press conference: “Yes. We talked, everything has been resolved in a really positive way. So we move forward.”
Pressed on whether the Gabon international will come straight back into his team, the Spaniard responded: “No, everybody has to obviously perform at the highest level to earn his place in the team and there is no exceptions there.We will try to put out a really competitive team to try and win the game.”
What did Aubameyang do wrong?
Arsenal haven’t offered a full explanation regarding Aubameyang’s misconduct, but it has been reported that he was dropped after arriving late to Emirates Stadium before the encounter against Spurs.
Pictures circulated on social media of the 31-year-old’s car being stuck in traffic in Muswell Hill a few hours before kick-off, with Arteta confirming that he had originally planned to start the frontman in a pre-match interview.
“He was going to start the game. We had a disciplinary issue, we have drawn the line and we move on. He’s on the bench,” he said. “We keep that internally. We have a process we have to respect for every game and that’s it.”
The bigger picture
Arsenal beat Olympiacos 3-1 in Greece without Aubameyang last week, and should finish the job at Emirates Stadium even if Arteta decides to leave him out again on Thursday night.
However, his presence could be vital to the Gunners chances of achieving the remaining goals for the 2020-21 campaign, with Champions League qualification still up for grabs via two different routes.
Arsenal are ten points behind fourth-place Chelsea in the Premier League having played a game less, with a crucial trip to West Ham on Sunday.
If they fall short domestically, Arteta’s side will have to win the Europa League to qualify for the elite continental competition, and Aubameyang’s goals could make a huge difference as the Gabonese star currently has 14 to his name from 29 outings in all competitions.