Mikel Arteta has revealed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyag feels responsible for Thursday’s night’s Europa League exit after he squandered a gilt-edged chance to grab a draw that would have put us through.
The boss says it’s now on the coaching staff and players to boost the morale of a player who has so regularly rescued them this year.
“He was gutted,” Arteta told his pre-Portsmouth press conference on Saturday.
“Obviously he scored a wonder goal that was putting us through in the competition, and with the last kick of the game, he had the best chance of the game.
“He felt very responsible about it, we will try to be right behind him.
“He has been phenomenal all season for us and now the players have to support him, I think his reaction after the game – to face the media and the way he talked, it was a very mature reaction from him.”
It remains to be seen whether Aubameyang is given a breather for Monday’s trip to Fratton Park. After 120 minutes of football, it seems likely that the boss will rotate his squad.
The likes of Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson all got game time on Friday for the under-23s and will be hoping to have staked a claim.
Arteta was part of two Arsenal FA Cup-winning squads as a player and is excited by the chance to challenge for the trophy as a coach.
“It’s really special,” he said. “It’s probably one of the nicest games and days of the season when you play the final day in England, at Wembley, nice weather and an incredible atmosphere.
“And you know, it’s a trophy that’s been very much linked with our history. So we want to continue to be attached to that, knowing that on Monday night in Portsmouth, it will be tough.”