Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence from Arsenal’s squad for the Europa League final further fuels his determination to win the competition.
The Gabon international has a long-standing friendship with the Armenian – the duo played alongside each other at Borussia Dortmund before reuniting at the Emirates in January 2018 – and is frustrated that political circumstances will force the midfielder to sit out the occasion.
With Champions League qualification on the line and a first European trophy in 25 years up for grabs, a showdown with London-rivals Chelsea in Baku was always going to be a highly-charged occasion. Now Auba says he has extra motivation.
“We know it is a big shame but we respect his decision,” he told the Evening Standard.
“It is not easy for him to go there because of political problems. It is a big shame but now we have one more motivation to win.
“Everybody here wants to be back in the Champions League. That’s been the target since the beginning of the season.”
Speaking at a pre-final media day at London Colney, Alex Iwobi shed some light on when Mkhitaryan informed his teammates of his decision.
“He’s contributed a lot for us to get to the final,” said Iwobi. “We’re very upset. We want him to come but it is what it is. We’re going to fight and hopefully win the trophy, not just for us but for him.
“He’s taken the decision that he can’t go, it was very upsetting to hear at the start of the training session but we have to not let it distract us. We now focus on the final.”
Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and managing director Vinai Venkatesham have all gone public with their annoyance at the situation, the latter labelling it ‘unacceptable’ and calling for a face-to-face meeting with UEFA.
Adding his voice to the debate, Petr Cech says the right to host the final should never have been given to Azerbaijan.
“Politics and sport should always stay apart,” he told beIN Sports.
“Sport brings people together and you should use it as a tool to overcome problems. When you choose the places for finals, there should be certain criteria, [one of] which should be everybody able to go without any problems.
“I feel sorry for him [Mkhitaryan] but we can make him feel happy if we win the trophy, because he played a big part in us reaching the final. It has been a very hard decision. Every player wants to be part of a team that plays in a final. He is not injured, he is fit, he helped us to go all the way.”
Can’t believe this isn’t being made a bigger deal in the wider press
Imagine if he was felt threatened enough to withdraw from this final because of his race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, skin colour instead of his nationality.
isn’t football and sport supposed to bridge all these things?
Cech’s last match, Mkhi missing, playing the Blue scummers, dodgy UEFA location…
Lots of motivation to get it done, COYR!!!
Well said Auba…!!
So sick of this game. Let’s just win it & get the hell out of there asap. Fuck UEFA’s post match nonsense & TV interviews. Grab the trophy, let Kos hold it aloft for a couple of seconds. Then get on a plane with the trophy asap & when we get back absolutely tear into UEFA & make a huge deal out of presenting the trophy to Mkhi.
Send one suit up to collect cup and then do a presentation at emirates next day.
or everyone wears 7 Mkhi Shirts to collect medals…
The Mkhi shirts thing sounds great but you would fear what situation that would land the players in with the local crowd. Honestly the fact we are even talking about any of this is disgusting
reach out to chelsea to show some solidarity – start the game with 10 men each and then kick the ball out on kick off and sub mkhitarian and the chelsea player.
Name mkhi as captain and then don’t lift the trophy til we get back to london.
Chelsea for me should have made a comment for that. It could have been one of their own players. But I forgot, that only scream for fair play when they are on the wrong side of the line.
The team should think of something if we win the final. I don’t know what that could look like. Maybe not partake in the manufactured celebrations post-match? That might send a strong message when their post-match broadcast is abandoned. I realize that hurst more the broadcast stations than UEFA, but would still send a message
Sorry for a bit of an off-topic, but what the hell is Özil (well, his PR team) doing?! Check out his latest post on social media, embracing Baku & Azerbaijan.
Absolute disgrace to Miki and our fans.
Can you put up a link to that? Sorry I can’t find it.
If you look again this was last season when we played Qarabag.
I mean last year
Lets hope this sparks some motivation for the players bc they have been erratic. Auba needs to put chances away like he did against Valencia and Burnley less so against BHA. People like to blame Mustafi but had Auba put away his chances better (just one goal against BHA) we would be in CL now and celebrating St Totteringhams. Nor was Mustafi present for the calamitous 3 goal defeat to Wolves. That was the outstanding and much wanted back 4 pairing of Koscielny and Sokratis. Had we won that game, we would be in 3rd ahead of Chelsea. The margins… Read more »
Dude, are you Mustafi in disguise. Just let it go already.
Love the responses from the players! COYG let’s beat Chelski…
I wish the Europa league final could be somewhere else so Miki could play
It is just not fair. Political reasons should never get in the way of soccer
Armenia for life ??????