Mikel Arteta says he expects every Arsenal player to stick to the club’s values after making an example of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following a sequence of events that threatened to disrupt the Gunners’ season. The Spaniard, who was animated throughout tonight’s 2-0 win over West Ham, got the all-important victory against the Hammers though after putting his own neck on the line in the past few days and stripping the forward of the captaincy.
Arteta was keen to highlight that no player is bigger than the club or his project after Aubameyang breached disciplinary rules after returning to London a day later than initially promised after visiting his mother.
Aubameyang was also forced to sit out of the clash against West Ham as the race for the top four hots up heading into the festive period.
Yet Arteta’s ballsy call paid off as the Gunners put on another impressive performance to move up into fourth after recording their second successive home win to nil following the disappointing 2-1 defeat at Everton.
As pointed out by Arteta, the players did not look distracted in any way shape or form in the aftermath of the dramatic midweek saga.
He told BT Sport post-match: “No, they [Arsenal players] were fully focused. They wanted to show how strong we are as a team.
“The performance, the attitude and commitment, was exactly what we asked, not myself but as a club.”
Arteta is yet to select his new captain but did highlight what is expected of his leadership group moving forward…
“We have a leadership group but I expect it from every player. To stick to our values,” he added.
“They do what they have to do, they have to enjoy themselves and leave it in that room because enjoyment is a big part of that and they play with passion.”
When quizzed on his relationship with Aubameyang, Arteta responded: “We will talk about that another day, I want to focus on the game.
“He wasn’t eligible for this game and this game has gone now.”
The Gunners made the breakthrough when Gabriel Martinelli bared down on goal and cooly curled the ball past former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Arsenal were then awarded a penalty when Vladimir Coufal appeared to chop down Alexandre Lacazette.
Replays showed the Czech did clearly play the ball before taking the man but after a slight pause to compose himself, Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.
Lacazette stepped up by Fabianski was on hand to parry away after correctly diving to his left.
The hosts’ persistence did pay off though when substitute Emile Smith Rowe finished brilliantly through Issa Diop’s legs to continue his impressive start to the season and cap a fine night for Arsenal.