Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says his forward players must “step forward” in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence.
The 30-year-old Gabonese marksman was shown a straight red last time out against Crystal Palace in his side’s 1-1 draw, meaning he’s set to miss their next three games.
How important is Aubameyang to Arsenal? Five things to know…
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is Arsenal’s leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season.
- He’s scored 14 goals across 22 outings, more than double Arsenal’s next top scorer in Alexandre Lacazette (five).
- Of Arsenal’s 12 away goals in the Premier League this campaign, Aubameyang has scored nine.
- He is set to miss their upcoming three domestic games against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth (FA Cup).
- Mikel Arteta has called on Arsenal’s other forwards to step up in the absence of their “most important player”.
Earlier in the game at Selhurst Park Aubameyang had put the Gunners in front, before Jordan Ayew levelled proceedings. Moments later Arteta’s side were reduced to 10 men after their leading goalscorer was dismissed for a challenge on Max Meyer.
On-field referee Paul Tierney initially booked him, though it was soon overturned by the video assistant referee. And even with a man less, Arsenal could have grabbed all three points after both Nicolas Pepe and Lacazette came agonisingly close to netting a winner.
The pair are likely to start when Premier League rivals Sheffield United visit the Emirates on January 18 – it will also be the first league game Aubameyang has missed this season.
To date, Aubameyang has bagged 14 goals — only Jamie Vardy (17) has scored more — which is more than double Arsenal’s next leading scorer in Lacazette (five).
With this reality, Gunners boss Arteta, who describes Aubameyang as the club’s “most important player” is calling on those filling in to step up.
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“They have to make a step forward now. If he (Aubameyang) is not able to contribute to the team with goals like this, then someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too,” he told reporters.
“Probably the most important player is missing so it is not nice, but we have other players who can play in that position and we will find a way and be as competitive as possible.
“At the moment we have to think mid-to-long term with Eddie [Nketiah],” he added when asked if Nketiah would be an option. “We have to respect his evolution and development and we don’t have to make a decision just based on two or three games.”