Mikel Arteta insists that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains as committed as ever to helping Arsenal to be successful.
The Arsenal head coach has been speaking about the Gunners captain in the wake of criticism of him this week, with former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher comparing Aubameyang to Mesut Ozil after signing a new deal with the club in the summer.
Carragher has accused the Arsenal captain of being ‘lazy’ at times this season, and speaking on Sky Sports earlier this week, he said he fears Arteta may have another Ozil situation on his hands, after Aubameyang put pen-to-paper on a new Arsenal contract last summer, increasing his wage to £250,000 a week.
The 31-year-old has struggled to hit top form this season since signing the new deal and has only nine Premier League goals to his name so far this campaign, with Arteta opting not to start him in Arsenal’s Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague last night.
Aubameyang did come off the bench in the 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium and was involved in Arsenal’s goal as Nicolas Pepe opened the scoring, only for Tomas Holes to score a late equaliser to deny the Gunners victory.
But Arteta was pleased with the response from the Arsenal forward, adding that he feels Aubameyang is still contributing to the squad, even when he is not starting games.
“Yes, we talked before the Europa League that everybody has contributed in different ways, the whole squad has been involved.
“Yesterday, the role for him was to start on the bench and to make an impact, and he made an impact, he assisted Nico [Pepe] for his goal and he should have scored with his left foot, and that’s what players have to do when they come in.”
Arteta was then asked for his thoughts on suggestions that Aubameyang’s situation could be like Ozil’s at Arsenal, after the German midfielder, who was the club’s highest earner, was frozen out of the first team picture before leaving to join Fenerbache.
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In response, Arteta said: “I am always positive about the future and don’t want to think about things that happened in the past, or compare different situations or different personalities.”
But when asked if he felt Aubameyang was as committed as ever to helping Arsenal win something, Arteta responded with just two words: “Yes, absolutely.”
Aubameyang will now be hoping to be involved as the Gunners face bottom side Sheffield United in the Premier League on Sunday.