Mikel Arteta denies rumors of rift with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Mikel Arteta denies rumors of rift with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Old Trafford substitution… and insists he has the relationship ‘he wants’ with Arsenal captain

  • Aubameyang was replaced with Arsenal one goal down at Old Trafford 
  • Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer said substitution had ‘humiliated’ striker 
  • Pundits suggested there must be a rift between Arteta and Aubameyang 
  • Arsenal striker has struggled for form this season, scoring only four goals
  • Mikel Arteta insisted relationship with Arsenal captain remains strong 

Mikel Arteta has insisted there is no rift between him and Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabon striker is struggling for form this season with only four goals and was hauled off at Manchester United in midweek when Arsenal were desperate for an equaliser.

That decision by Arteta prompted comments from pundits Alan Shearer and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry that there must be a problem between the pair and the player had been humiliated.

Mikel Arteta denied rumours of a rift between him and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arteta was quick to set the record straight as he prepared for Monday night’s crucial trip back to the north-west and his former club Everton.

He said: ‘I can guarantee you that there is not a rift. You have to respect their opinion (Henry and Shearer’s) but what I can tell you is I have the relationship I want with him.

‘When I make decisions with 15, 20, 30 minutes left, or in the line-up at the start, it is done with one intention and that is to get the best out of the team.’

Pressed if he thought it was humiliating for Aubameyang to be withdrawn at such a crucial moment, he added: ‘That is the last word I would use with my players because if that’s humiliation, imagine what it’s like for the ones left out of the team.’

The Arsenal captain missed a glorious chance in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford mid-week

The Gabon international was substituted shortly afterward as Arsenal chased an equaliser

Aubameyang won the Golden Boot in his first full season in the Premier League and was handed a bumper contract after inspiring Arsenal to FA Cup glory.

Now his place is under threat from youngsters such as Gabriel Martinelli. Arteta said: ‘Obviously he’s been contributing to games in different ways. Unfortunately he has not scored as many as you would expect in terms of goals.

‘You always are concerned when your main striker is not scoring goals but he’s trying his hardest and he’s aware of how much we need him in the team to score the goals.

‘At the moment they are not coming but the rest of the things that we ask him to do [are]. He’s trying to do his best.’

Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer said Aubameyang had been humiliated by the substitution 

But Arteta insisted his relationship with the Arsenal captain remained as good as ever

It would be a big call to drop Aubameyang in such an important match as Arsenal try to keep in touch with the battle for a top-four finish. 

But there is an outside chance enigmatic midfielder Granit Xhaka could be in the squad for the first time since sustaining an ankle injury in victory over Tottenham in September.

The Swiss international skipper was not expected to feature until well into the New Year. ‘This week he has progressed again to a different level,’ Arteta said of Xhaka. ‘We’ll have a conversation and decide when it’s best to start to give him some exposure.

Granit Xhaka could be in the squad for Monday’s game against Everton for the first time since he sustained an ankle injury in the win over Tottenham in September

‘It will be a big boost to have him back. We miss him. He’s one of our leaders.’

Arteta spared a thought for under-pressure Everton boss Rafael Benitez amid a poor run of results and talk of a fan walk-out during the match.

Arteta said: ‘He knows much better than me how to handle these sort of situations.

‘I don’t have to send a message to their fans about what to do. We know the qualities he has.’

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