Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed Arsenal’s weekend game against Southampton over a breach of discipline. On Tuesday, the club confirmed Aubameyang is no longer the team captain, and said he won’t be part of the squad for the West Ham clash on Wednesday either, fuelling speculation that his future is away from North London.
“We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed,” Arsenal commented through a statement.
The Gunners’ manager, Mikel Arteta, described the decision as “painful,” but said it had been made to “defend the interests of the football club.” Aubameyang was informed of Arsenal’s decision to strip him of the captain’s armband during a private talk with the manager. The forward from Gabon also held a meeting with members of the club hierarchy.
“It’s a decision that we’ve made following the last incident that we had with the player, and this is where we stand,” Arteta said during his press conference ahead of the West Ham match. “When we have to make that decision, obviously it’s because that’s the right one to defend the interests of the football club. It’s been a lot to digest and a really difficult decision to make, so we need a bit of time,” the coach added.
“To make the decision that we made is because it was really hurting and it’s still like this and it needs a little bit of time to heal, so for now, again, he’s not involved in the squad,” the manager explained.
Arsenal will not appoint a permanent replacement for Aubameyang as captain, for the time being. The leaders in the locker room are expected to share responsibility until a firm decision is made.
“It’s a really unpleasant situation and it’s not the moment to make any rash decisions,” Arteta said. “The leadership group is really strong. It’s one that communicates with myself, the coaching staff, and with the club in a really strong way, and we’re going to continue like that,” the Arsenal boss revealed.
Aubameyang, the turbulent one
Aubameyang was named club captain by former Arsenal manager Unai Emery after Granit Xhaka was removed from the role. Expected to lead the team, Auba has seen his form dipping over the past year-and-a-half. He scored 15 goals last season, his lowest total since the 2010/11 campaign. This season, he netted seven times in 15 games.
Aubameyang is a target for FC Barcelona in January, but talks aren’t expected to go smoothly. The 32-year-old is under contract until 2023 and earns a staggering $460k per week wage.
Even without Aubameyang, Arsenal is looking to add another three points to the Premier League table as they take on West Ham at the Emirates. Arsenal is at +110 to win, with the East-Londoners at +230. A draw is at +260. A bet on both teams to score is at -160.
French striker Alexandre Lacazette is the bookies’ favorite to score on Wednesday evening. He is at +130 to hit the net against West Ham.