Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has defended his decision to bench striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Sunday’s meeting with Tottenham, insisting he must set an example for the rest of the club.
Aubameyang, who was Arsenal’s top scorer heading into the game, was expected to start but was eventually named on the bench because of a disciplinary issue – a decision which had many fans concerned ahead of what was obviously a huge match.
Arsenal roared back from a man down to seal a crucial 2-1 victory, meaning Arteta’s choice did not backfire, and he took the opportunity after the game to warn his players that they must live up to a certain standard.
“For me [the standards] are the foundation and the platform that we can build something medium and long-term that is sustainable and that can bring us joy and happiness,” he said (via Sky Sports News). “Without that, I don’t believe that it would happen. That’s why I keep talking about it and acting about it. I made what I thought was the right decision and we draw a line there and now let’s move on again.
“We know how important Auba is for us and for the club and that’s it. It’s been dealt with, now let’s move on.
“We have a way of living together, we have to respect each other and that’s it, but he is an incredible guy. He’s one of the most important players in the team, he’s our captain, but these things happen. We move forward and we enjoy the victory tonight.”
After the game was finished, Aubameyang did not stick around and instead drove home early while the rest of the squad were doing their warm-down.
Arteta refused to confirm reports suggesting Aubameyang had arrived late for the game, but that’s the reason given by The Athletic, who note that the Gabon international has somewhat of a track record for turning up late.
Aubameyang was also criticised back in February for breaching COVID-19 guidelines to get a tattoo, and he even missed a virus test ahead of a European game earlier this season.
Arteta is a huge fan of Aubameyang and has never hidden his admiration for the striker, but he wants to hold all his players to the same standards and will not accept breaches of the code of conduct from anyone.