Mikel Arteta has confirmed that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been left out of Arsenal’s starting XI for the north London derby against Tottenham due to ‘disciplinary reasons’.
The Gunners’ skipper has rediscovered his scoring touch in recent weeks but was a shock absence from the team sheet at the Emirates for Sunday’s game.
When asked to explain why Aubameyang was not named in the starting line-up, Arteta only said that it related to a ‘disciplinary’ matter and refused to elaborate any further on the reason for his omission.
Questioned on Aubameyang’s absence, Arteta told Sky Sports: ‘He was going to start the game but we had a disciplinary issue. We have drawn the line and we move on and he’s on the bench.’
Asked if he could elaborate, Arteta replied: ‘No. Obviously we keep that internally. We have a process that we have to respect for every game and that’s it.’
Probed on whether Aubameyang could have been dropped from the squad entirely, Arteta added: ‘It’s a decision we made after evaluating everything and who Auba is and what he’s done and that’s it.’
Although he was left out of the starting XI, Aubameyang did still make the bench for the must-win clash against Spurs – though it remains to be seen if Arteta will call on him.
In his place, Alexandre Lacazette is handed a start up top as one of three changes made by Arteta from the team that won in Athens against Olympiakos in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Hector Bellerin comes out of the team, replaced by Cedric Soares, while Willian – who got another assist in Greece – is replaced by Emile Smith Rowe.
Curiously, Nicolas Pepe does not make the matchday squad at all despite not having been mentioned as an injury doubt before the match.
Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, makes six changes from the team that beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in their Europa League clash on Thursday night.
Gareth Bale – who has netted five times against the Gunners, his best return against any Premier League side – returns to the starting XI, while Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilon, Toby Alderweireld, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Lucas Moura are all restored.