Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left on the bench for Arsenal’s most important game of the season last night.
That’s an indication of his current standing within the squad, although he did come on to tee up Nicolas Pepe’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague.
In the Telegraph, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said Aubameyang’s situation ‘saddens’ him because he loves watching him play at his best.
He said only the Gabonese superstar can change the current narrative and prevent another Mesut Ozil situation developing.
“Aubameyang should see that armband as an opportunity to be the driving force and inspire the young players. He has been hiding behind them. That saddens me because he is a player I have loved watching.
“Unless Aubameyang constantly steps up as he did when creating Pépé’s goal, Arteta has the same problem as he faced with Özil last summer, with a well paid underperformer absorbing massive wages.
“It is easy to apply retrospective wisdom when looking at the lucrative contract given to Aubameyang and say it was an expensive mistake. It wasn’t at the time. Since then he has been a shadow of the striker he was.
“That’s his responsibility, not that of the Arsenal board. He owes the club far more than he is delivering. It’s the attitude and demeanour which is most concerning. At times he has looked disinterested.”
As Carragher eludes to, how this plays out depends on Aubameyang.
He can choose to get his head down or he can be an expensive burden to the club he is supposed to be leading.
As captain, he sets the tone in the dressing room and Mikel Arteta won’t have everyone pulling in the same direction if his skipper’s heart isn’t in it or he isn’t setting the standards.
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