Arsenal have been split by the situation surrounding Mikel Arteta and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Aubameyang was dropped from Arsenal’s matchday squad for the 3-0 victory over Southampton at the weekend, with Arteta describing it as a “disciplinary breach” without going in to much more detail.
It seems likely that the striker will be stripped of the captaincy after his third violation of Arteta’s infamous “non-negotiables”.
But while many agree with how Arteta has dealt with the issue, Aubameyang is said to have many supporters within the setup at Arsenal.
The Athletic report that there are two camps in the club: those who believe this to be ‘a display of strong management’, and others who feel ‘the affair was an unnecessary case of airing dirty laundry in public’.
Arteta, in the eyes of his advocates, ‘took a clear, principled stance’ and was right to ensure that ‘there are no exceptions made for captaincy or star status’.
But others think that ‘the sanctity of the dressing room’ should be ‘preserved’ and the matter dealt with privately instead of stoking the fires of speculation.
Keown warns Arteta over ‘damaging’ discipline for Arsenal star
Aubameyang himself has left the dressing room divided. He is ‘a popular figure’ behind the scenes yet there is a degree of resentment that ‘while Arteta has shown a willingness to bend the rules… the player still manages to break them.’
Some unnamed players even agree that Aubameyang is not captaincy material.
In their far-reaching review of the matter, The Athletic shed some light on the “disciplinary breach”. It is said that Aubameyang asked for and received permission to visit France early last week to see his mother and bring her back to England. The agreed plan was for the Gabon international to fly out on Tuesday and return on Wednesday, but he instead flew back on Thursday morning.
While there is no suggestion Aubameyang was late to report for training on Thursday, Arsenal feel they outlined the ‘parameters’ of the plan clearly and the player ‘simply failed to meet them’. After being told not to come in for training on Friday, Aubameyang maintained his fitness at home.
It is added that COVID-19 protocols only added to the ‘confusion’, as Aubameyang felt that doing a test in France before returning to England ‘would be sufficient for him to resume training immediately on Thursday’. Furthermore, some feel that ‘the intricacies of the testing implications’ could have been put across by Arsenal much more clearly, but the Gunners might point out that there would be no such issue if Aubameyang flew back on the agreed day.