Arsenal make statement without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Mikel Arteta vindicated

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  • Mikel Arteta
    Mikel Arteta
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  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
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If this is what life without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is like, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta should be in no rush to bring him in from the cold.

Arsenal went into last night’s clash against West Ham with plenty of questions and they answered them emphatically with arguably their best performance of the season so far.

In the end, it was a 2-0 win for Arsenal, enough to see them leapfrog West Ham into fourth in the Premier League, but it could have been much more.

Alexandre Lacazette missed a penalty and Arsenal finished the game with 21 shots on goal. 

Watch: Arteta reflects on 'unpleasant situation' as Aubameyang stripped of Arsenal captaincy

In contrast, the Hammers forced Aaron Ramsdale to make just one save all night.

“It was a big game for us to obviously have the capacity to go above them and move fourth,” said Arteta.

“It was a statement. I am really pleased with the performance, the quality, the energy, the passion and the crowd.”

As Arteta said, this was a statement performance by Arsenal and particularly Alexandre Lacazette, who captained the side for the third game in a row.

Arsenal are yet to decide who will replace Aubameyang as captain and, in the interim a leadership group, which includes Lacazette, will share the responsibility.

Lacazette appears to be revelling in that role and the way he led from the front last night, with and without the ball, set the tone for the team’s performance. 

Arsenal’s youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli got the goals, and rightfully plenty of praise, but it was Lacazette who drove them to victory on a night when people were questioning the team’s lack of leaders.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Absolutely,” said Arteta, when asked if Lacazette is relishing the captaincy role. “But Laca has always been like that in the dressing room.

“You see the way he acts with the young players, how willing he is to help. It’s in his nature. He’s not a selfish player. He’s happy when he makes the rest better, and he’s like that in the dressing room as well.”

If Lacazette is benefiting from Aubameyang’s absence, then the same can be said for Martinelli as well.

The Brazilian has been in fine form of late and last night he underlined his quality with a goal we have seen Aubameyang, or even Thierry Henry, score countless times. Martinelli was slid in by Lacazette and, arcing his run from the left flank, he raced through and bent the ball round Lukasz Fabianski and into the bottom corner.

“He was cramping again and he needs to mature in that sense, but his overall understanding of the game is getting much better,” Arteta said of Martinelli.

Watch: Warm up routine

“He’s able to put some gears into his play. Sometimes he’s still doing everything at 100 miles per hour, but the energy and quality he shows at times is top.”

Martinelli’s goal came just after half-time and it was not until three minutes before the final whistle that Arsenal wrapped up the win thanks to Smith Rowe.

The attacking midfielder combined with Bukayo Saka during a rapid counter and Arteta broke out into a huge smile as he hugged his coaching staff after the goal.

It has been a testing couple of days for Arteta, arguably the biggest in his managerial career to date, but he will have felt vindicated after last night’s win.

Dropping Aubameyang and stripping him of the captaincy was a huge call, however, on this evidence, it appears to be the correct one.

Right now, even if he does return to the fold, it is hard to see how Aubameyang gets in this Arsenal team.

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