Arsenal players ‘upset’ over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang decision says Freddie Ljungberg

Arsenal: Arteta admits team can be own worst enemy

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Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg has claimed that Mikel Arteta’s decision to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Sunday’s clash with rivals Tottenham will have upset the players, suggesting that the striker must have fallen foul of the Spaniard in spectacular fashion to justify his absence from the starting side. Aubameyang was consigned to a place on the substitutes’ bench for the second north London derby of the season, with Arteta claiming before kick-off that he was dropped for disciplinary reasons.

The Gabon international has scored nine goals in 23 league appearances this season, and was expected by many to lead the line for Arsenal once again on Sunday.

His surprise exclusion raised a lot of eyebrows before the match got underway, given his crucial role up top for the Gunners since the beginning of the campaign.

Alexandre Lazacette was selected to start at the tip of Arsenal’s attacking trident, flanked by young pair Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka on either side.

Like many onlookers, Ljungberg was left confused by the decision, with the nature of Aubameyang’s infringement still yet to receive official confirmation.

He told Sky Sports before the match that the striker’s absence would harm Arsenal’s chances of victory, suggesting that Arteta must have been given a very good reason to leave him out of the side.

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“It’s a weird one, It upsets your team a little bit,” said Ljungberg.

“Listening [to Arteta], the only thing l can think of is that he has been late or something because he is still on the bench. So it can’t be that bad.

“But of course it upsets the players. He’s Arsenal’s top man. He’s the one you look for and if he gets one vs one against the defender, you know he can score quite easily.

“It’s not good for Arsenal and it must be something big to leave him out.”

Arteta’s pre-match explanation was frustratingly vague, with the Spaniard stressing that Aubameyang’s situation would be resolved behind closed doors.

“He was going to start the game but we had a disciplinary issue,” said the Arsenal boss. “We have drawn the line and we move on.

“Obviously we keep that internally. We have our process that we have to respect every game and that’s it.”

It has been claimed by The Athletic that Aubameyang arrived late to meet up with the rest of the squad before the match.

The striker is believed to have turned up late on a number of occasions since the beginning of the campaign, with Sunday’s incident proving to be the final straw for Arteta.

His absence leaves Arsenal heavily reliant on Lacazette, who will be expected to produce his very best in order to help see off the challenge of Spurs.

Jose Mourinho’s side coasted to a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture four months ago, with deadly duo Son Heung-min and Harry Kane scoring first-half goals.

Spurs went into Sunday’s match seven points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League table, with both sides aiming to resurrect their faint hopes of a top-four finish with victory.

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