Mikel Arteta’s decision to leave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of his Arsenal XI vs Tottenham Hotspur has caused quite the stir.
The Gunners manager has made three changes to the team that started Thursday night’s Europa League last-16 first-leg win over Olympiacos.
In addition to Aubameyang dropping to the bench, Willian and Hector Bellerin also miss out with Alexandre Lacazette, Emile Smith Rowe, and Cedric all recalled.
With that said, the biggest talking point is the rather surprising absence of the Arsenal captain who scored in the corresponding fixture last season which ended in a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking ahead of kick-off, Arteta explained the decision to drop Aubameyang is disciplinary related.
“He was going to start the game. We had a disciplinary issue, we have drawn the line and we move on, he’s on the bench,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
However, Arteta refused to go into more detail regarding Aubameyang’s absence.
“No, we obviously keep that internal,” he added. “We have a process we have to respect for every game and that’s it. It’s a decision made after evaluating everything about what Auba has done and that’s it.
“We have other players and we’ve had to change the team recently quite a lot and we have players that are willing to play and deserve the chance, so I am confident with that.”
According to the Athletic, the reason Aubameyang was dropped is because he was late for meeting up with the first-team ahead of the north London derby.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special newsletters with any big breaking news too.
And with the January transfer window now open there’s plenty of content to get your teeth into.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
Arsenal go into the game sitting 10th in the Premier League table and 13 points off the top-four.
As a result, lifting the Europa League trophy in May represents their best chance of playing Champions League football next season.
There is also the added incentive for Arteta’s side to not only avenge the defeat in the reverse fixture against Spurs, but also dent their rivals’ hopes of sealing a top-four finish.