Mikel Arteta says Arsenal made the decision to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to join up with Gabon earlier than expected because the player wasn’t in his plans for tomorrow’s match with Manchester City.
The Gunners’ deposed captain is understood to have flown to Dubai on Monday to meet up with his compatriots for a pre-AFCON training camp.
Having already missed five matches as a punishment for a disciplinary breach in early December, the striker will miss a further five as a result of international duty.
“We had a letter from the national team asking for permission to get the player,” explained Arteta.
“He wasn’t going to be involved tomorrow so for his fitness and to keep competing, it was the right thing to do.”
Asked if he’s been justified in his decision to leave Aubameyang out given his teammates have won five games in his absence, Arteta said: “For me, it’s not about being right or wrong it’s about making the decision that you believe and deal with the consequences of what you are asking to do and I made that decision and as I said, it will go game-by-game.”
He added: “At the moment, he’s gone. He needs to focus on the national team. We had a conversation and that was the best way to do it. As I said before, we’ll address it game by game.”
Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Mo Elneny – also AFCON bound – will join up with their respective countries on 3 January, a revised deadline that was agreed by clubs and CAF last week.