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Arsenal Were Right To Let Aubameyang Go - Even If They Miss The Champions League

Shaun Cronin for Bookies.com

Shaun Cronin  | 6 mins

Arsenal Were Right To Let Aubameyang Go - Even If They Miss The Champions League

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Given Arsenal’s struggles of late, Mikel Arteta has been subject to recriminations over the decision to let former club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave on a free to Barcelona in February.

After Aubameyang’s exit Arsenal enjoyed a good run of form, but a recent downturn - which saw the Gunners lose three games on the spin to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton - has seen their odds on betting apps to claim a top four spot in the Premier League climb steadily.

The Gabon striker scored 68 times in 128 appearances during his time in England’s top flight. However, an unspecified disciplinary issue in early December saw Aubameyang omitted from the matchday squad for the home fixture with Southampton and he would never play for the club again.

Aubameyang subsequently moved to Barcelona on a free transfer after he and Arsenal parted ways by ‘mutual consent’ and he has enjoyed a scoring start to life at the Catalan giants - netting twice in the most recent El Clásico game as Barca smashed rivals Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Aubameyang Exit Right For Everyone

In the meantime, the goals have dried up for Arsenal, as they have only managed to find the net twice in their last five outings leading into Wednesday night’s huge game at Stamford Bridge.

It’s no wonder then that Betfair have Chelsea firm favourites at 17/20 to win that clash, as the Gunners have also failed to get Alexandre Lacazette firing this season.

All of this has led to pundits suggesting Arteta was wrong to show Aubameyang the door, but the Spaniard has held firm on his decision whenever he’s been questioned by the media.

Up until their recent blip, the Gunners seemed to be a much more united group after Arteta dropped the striker from his plans. They also had won 11 of the 17 games they’d played leading into the Crystal Palace match, scoring a whopping 31 goals along the way.

Arteta chose respect for his authority and unity within the team over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and in the sample size available, you can certainly argue it was the correct decision. Also, you can make the case that it is the lack of squad depth and injuries to key men that has brought about this slump and not Aubameyang’s departure.

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One man who agrees that it was the right call by Arteta to move on is Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit. He also felt the transfer was a rare case in football of both sides getting what they want.

“It was definitely not a mistake for Arsenal to let Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang go to Barcelona,” Petit said.

“I'm very happy with what Aubameyang is doing currently at Barcelona, but I believe Arteta took the right decision to let him leave. I know that Arteta was not happy with the example that Aubameyang was setting for the rest of the dressing room in terms of his behaviour.

“I can understand how he felt. On top of all that he was the captain, so he had responsibility to the team as well and he failed on some of that.

“Aubameyang is having a great time at Barcelona now and up until recently Arsenal were having a great run in the Premier League without him, so I thought to myself 'when a story comes to an end, it's important both sides are happy'.

“Until the last two weeks, no one was saying Arsenal were missing Aubameyang. They were doing well since he left and I'm pretty sure they were happy as well that they let him go. Both sides appear to have won in this case.”


 

Alexandre Lacazette Needs More Help Than Most To Catch Fire

With Aubameyang gone, Arsenal supporters had hoped that Alexandre Lacazette would carry the can of goalscoring at the club.

However, things haven’t worked out for the Frenchman at all this term, and he has only managed to find the net four times in the Premier League from 25 outings. Petit was quick to defend his fellow countryman though, and felt those around him in the Arsenal squad need to help him a bit more.

“Alexandre Lacazette has been missing goals lately and he is not a great goalscorer in general,” the Premier League winner explained.

“But he is the kind of striker that needs support from his teammates all the time. Don't forget Arsenal are missing (Kieran) Tierney, (Takehiro) Tomiyasu and (Thomas) Partey at the moment.

“On top of that, Martin Odegaard doesn't score a lot of goals either - Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are the same in that regard. They should help out Lacazette in the goalscoring stakes more than they do currently.

“Lacazette can only perform if the rest of the team can support him up front, and Arsenal have been struggling recently in games. I didn't recognise them against Crystal Palace and Brighton. They looked sloppy, physically tired and had no inspiration.

“All the players I have listed above have a responsibility to do more than they are doing. Lacazette is not the type of player to receive the ball and dribble past three guys to shoot and score a goal.

“That's not him, Lacazette gets all of his goals by linking with his teammates. He is not a striker who can make a difference by himself all the time.”

On-Form Loan Men Could Make The Difference

Speaking at a press conference after the Crystal Palace game, Mikel Arteta confirmed he wants to add to his squad drastically in the summer.

However, he could do worse than dip into some of the resources already available to him. Mattéo Guendouzi has been on loan with Marseille this season, helping the side to second in Ligue 1 and a semi-final appearance in the Europa Conference League.

Such has been the midfielder’s form that he received his first cap for his country in France’s recent 5-0 victory over South Africa on March 29. However, Guendouzi appeared as a late substitute in that game and it was another Gunners loanee, William Saliba (also at Marseille), who caught the eye of Petit.

When the question was put to him on whether Guendouzi should be in Arsenal’s plans next season, Petit politely replied: “You'll have to ask that question to Mattéo Guendouzi, and William Saliba is in the same boat.”

“Saliba made some comments on French TV recently where he said he wasn't ruling out a return to Arsenal next season. He added that he didn't mind not playing every single game, he just wanted to be in the rotation.

“He has made a huge impact at Marseille as well, and the fact that both he and Guendouzi have won their first caps for the French national team tells you a lot about how they've been playing.

“The fans of Marseille love Matteo Guendouzi. They like his character, personality and his play.

“Meanwhile, Saliba has been a rock in the defence for them and he is not the same player that left Arsenal. He is different, he has grown up and he is more confident.

“I would like to see Guendouzi and Saliba come back to Arsenal, but the question needs to be asked to them on if they are happy to go back.”

Arsenal may just be able to solidify a top four position in the Premier League next season should these two players return to the fold, but if you fancy them to be in the Champions League slots at the end of this campaign you’ll find them at 9/4 with BetVictor.

About the Author

Shaun Cronin for Bookies.com
Shaun Cronin
Having previously spent time at Paddy Power, Landmark Digital and Red FM, Shaun has amassed experience in both journalism and sports betting industries. He has also been featured in the Irish Examiner, Evening Echo and breakingnews.ie. You'll find his interviews and stories here at Bookies.com.