Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang MUST be stripped of Arsenal's captaincy

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang MUST be stripped of Arsenal’s captaincy… the Gabon striker is a serial offender and it’s the only option left for Mikel Arteta

  • Aubameyang missed Saturday’s Southampton clash due to a disciplinary breach
  • The Gabon international, 32, could be stripped of the captaincy by Mikel Arteta
  • It is not the first time he has broke club rules, and he may well be sold in January

Mikel Arteta was so smooth in his side-stepping that he might still offer value for the odd dance in midfield. On seven occasions a question came at him about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and to each he swerved out of the way.

For now he feels enough has been said, in that he has told us his captain committed another breach of discipline, and it was the reason why he had no role in the 3-0 kicking of Southampton on Saturday.

What he wouldn’t tell us were the details, such as his whereabouts during training on Friday, or if he was abroad earlier in the week, and whether it is an ongoing punishment or a sanction that ended at the weekend.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed Arsenal’s clash against Southampton due to ‘a disciplinary breach’

Aubameyang started as a substitute in the defeat against Everton and played just 20 minutes

‘I cannot say anything now guys,’ he said. ‘And you are not going to get anything else out of me that happened in the dressing room. Obviously I try to explain the reasons why and I could have gone in a different way.’

True, but with Arsenal facing West Ham on Wednesday, further answers will be forthcoming, if not through a media briefing then via a team sheet. In a couple of days we will at least know his short-term solution to the Aubameyang problem, but already it feels as though one outcome ought to be inevitable. Because how, really, can Aubameyang remain captain?

Offloading him in the deeper sense of a transfer might be a temptation that is unfeasible, given he is 32 and drifting on a contract worth £350,000 a week — the returns of which continue to diminish. So that might be a hard sell in the mould of Mesut Ozil.

But stripping him of the captaincy is less of a burden, and could scarcely be held against a manager with ample justification for such a move.

Mikel Arteta could strip the Gabon international of the club  captaincy following the incident

 It is not the first time the experienced striker has breached club rules, leaving Arteta angry

There will always be numbers in favour of Aubameyang. Even catering for this season’s slump — four goals in 14 games — his exceptional strike rate of 92 in 165 mean some will not hear a bad word against him. 

Of course we ought to hear his side of the tale but the understanding that he returned late from a sanctioned trip abroad last week is compounded by the fact it has happened before.

It was in March that Arteta first snapped at his striker’s lack of punctuality and dropped him against Tottenham. Combined with this latest issue, it lends weight to those around the club who question if the captaincy is a responsibility that Aubameyang has ever truly loved.

Aubameyang’s future looks in doubt and he could be sold in the January transfer window

For all the complications at Arsenal, increasingly this feels like a sensible fix — the finding of a captain who can, among other things, manage the basics of being in the right place at the right time.

None of which is to ignore the question of whether Arteta could have handled this issue in a quieter manner, particularly so soon after denying suggestions of a rift with his best goalscorer. But if his public denouncement of Aubameyang hints at anything, it is of snapped patience from a manager who needs serious people in serious roles if Arsenal are to step up.

Saturday was a case in point. Through Alexandre Lacazette they led after 21 minutes, but it is impossible to imagine Manchester City, Chelsea or Liverpool failing to score at least once from the chances permitted to Southampton. Martin Odegaard and Gabriel made the win emphatic, and occasionally they touched on brilliance, but it was awfully ropey for a while.

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