Mikel Arteta says captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not ‘undroppable’ but he insists critics of his current form should remember what the striker has done for the club in the recent past.
Since joining the Gunners nearly three years ago, the Gabon international has been prolific in front of goal. That was, until this season.
So far he’s only netted four goals in 13 appearances and with his teammates so reliant on him to lead the way, the drought is taking a toll on results. Even a switch from playing on the left to a preferred central role hasn’t solved a conundrum that is keeping the boss up at night.
It’s hard to tell whether he’s in a funk because of the team’s struggles or vice versa. That things have taken a downturn since he signed his new big-money contract has added extra spice to the narrative.
Ahead of Thursday’s clash with Dundalk, a game Aubameyang will sit out, Arteta was asked if he’d consider benching his talisman.
He replied: “No one is undroppable. At the end of the day, we have to find the right players to win football matches.
“But we cannot forget what Auba has done for this club and what he has done in recent months, not years ago.
“As well, I see how he’s training and how he’s behaving, how much he wants to turn this situation around. When I see that type of hunger, it’s about supporting the player as well as the status he has in the team because of the performances he has provided for this football club.”
Asked what he’s doing to keep his captain positive, Arteta added: “Listen, today and this week, the response that I’ve seen from the players and the reaction I saw from the players after the match [against Sp*rs], I cannot be any prouder. Because I know how difficult it is for everybody at the moment.
“After losing a derby you can be completely down and I saw a completely different team, a team that wants to fight, that has a big belief in what they are trying to do and they want to push themselves and push each other harder and harder.
“Auba was one of the main guys there and today he was walking around the place with an energy that wouldn’t be associated to a team or a player that is suffering at the moment and that is for me the way we have to approach it.”