In pictures: Arsenal v Sunderland
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Arsenal central defender Ben White said the team “all miss” former Gunners’ captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker has been jettisoned from the north Londoners’ last four matches by manager Mikel Arteta, after allegedly returning from an authorised trip abroad late.
As well as excluding him from the last four match-day 18-man squads, Aubameyang was also stripped of the captaincy by the Gunners’ boss.
His recent jettisoning from the Arsenal camp has prompted inevitable speculation, suggesting his days at the Emirates Stadium are numbered.
Aubameyang’s last appearance in an Arsenal shirt came in their frustrating 2-1 away defeat to Everton, where he was brought off the bench for the last five minutes.
However, despite the on-going speculation, White suggested the Arsenal camp is a darker place without Aubameyang.
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“It hasn’t really looked it on the scoresheet. We’ve been playing well,” White said to TalkSPORT when asked whether Aubameyang’s absence has had an effect on the team.
“Obviously it’s disappointing for Auba but we’ve all got our heads down and we’re working hard.
“He’s a really nice guy, we all miss him, but it is what it is.”
Despite the drama encapsulating Aubameyang and Arteta’s apparent strained relationship, Arsenal have been on fire in their last four matches.
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Their 5-1 demolition of League One Sunderland in the League Cup quarter-final was their fourth consecutive victory in all competitions, having swept Southampton, West Ham, and Leeds United away in their preceding three Premier League matches.
At this current moment, Arteta’s side will travel to face Norwich City in Boxing Day, where they will be hoping to solidify their position in the top four.
But despite their outstanding run of form, Arteta’s handling of Aubameyang and the manner of which he stripped him off the captaincy has been subject to intense criticism.
However, Arteta was stoic and unapologetic towards the criticism, stating he will always demand respect and commitment from all of his players.
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“I do not establish my authority by being dictatorial or ruthless. I just ask for one thing: respect and commitment,” the Arsenal boss said.
“At this level, if I don’t get that, I will pack my bags and go somewhere else because that is the minimum I can ask for.
“I am going to expect that from everybody who works for the club. First of all from myself, and the day I don’t do that I will walk through that door and go and do something else. It as clear as that.
“To be successful you have to be passionate about something and want to represent a club of this size, with its history. That is the minimum standard you have to bring.
“I am not going to ask anybody to put the ball in the top corner every time they hit it, but I will ask them to do the right things every single day for this club.”
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