After watching his side beat Southampton 3-0, Mikel Arteta was in no mood to expand on the details of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s “disciplinary breach” that saw the Arsenal captain excluded from the matchday squad.
The Athletic reports this evening that Aubameyang returned late from a sanctioned trip abroad and that the knock-on effect on the club’s Covid-19 protocols meant the matter couldn’t be ignored.
If true, it’s not the first time the striker’s tardiness has earned him a ticking off. The 32-year-old was dropped for the north London derby last season after getting stuck in traffic on the way to the game.
When the details of David Ornstein’s report were put to Arteta in his post-game press conference, he said: “It was a disciplinary breach and that’s why he was out of the squad.”
Pressed on whether his main goal threat remains captain, he added:
“Let’s talk about the game, guys. I’ve tried to explain what it was and I did it frankly. I’m not going to say anything else. I’m going to focus on the performance and what the team has done on the pitch.
“I’m really happy that we won 3-0 and we move onto the next one against West Ham, you’re not going to get anything else from me. Unfortunately, it happened.”
In Auba’s absence, Alex Lacazette took the armband and opened the scoring before Martin Odegaard, with his head, netted a third goal in the space on 10 days.
Arteta was pleased with the contribution of both men.
“He [Odegaard] should have scored a hat-trick against Everton,” said Arteta of the Norwegian.
“He’s getting into the box much more and now he’s understanding why we encourage him to do that because then he’s a matchwinner.
“That’s the difference between a really good player and a matchwinner and we need more of those players on the pitch to win more games.”
On Lacazette, he added: “I was really happy with him, he has done everything we asked him to do in the game.
“First of all he has come in and his defensive actions were top, and then the way he linked in, the way he understood the spaces and the threat that he was in the box.
“That’s why he scored the goal and he had opportunities to do that. He really affected the team and I am really pleased with him.”