Merson says: Arsenal’s Auba problem, they need a new captain

Paul Merson says Arsenal have a “major problem” on their hands with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and thinks his former club need a new captain.

​​​​​​Aubameyang was dropped from Arsenal’s squad for Saturday’s 3-0 win over Southampton due to what Mikel Arteta revealed was a “disciplinarily breach”.

Asked why Aubameyang – who did not train with the Arsenal squad on Friday – was omitted from the squad, Arteta said: “I think we have been very consistent that we have certain non-negotiables in the team that we have set ourselves as a club, and he’s not involved today.”

It is not the first time Aubameyang has been disciplined by Arsenal and Arteta. He was also dropped from the north London derby in March after reporting late for a team meeting, and speaking to Sky Sports, Merson thinks it’s time his former club got a new captain.

Ahead of Arsenal’s clash with West Ham on Wednesday, Merson also discusses Arteta’s decision to drop the striker and whether Aubameyang should be brought back for the game against the Hammers…

How to follow Arsenal vs West Ham…

Follow Arsenal vs West Ham in our dedicated live match blog on Wednesday. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after full-time.

Should Aubameyang be the Arsenal captain?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal looks dejected after the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 6, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has fallen foul of Mikel Arteta’s ‘non-negotiables’

This is not the first time this has happened with Aubameyang.

He turned up late for a meeting before and got left out of the side to face Tottenham. He’s the example. There are a lot of young players in that team who will look up to him.

He wouldn’t be the captain if I was manager. Absolutely no chance. Once, yes. Twice, no. It’s an honour to be captain of Arsenal and for me, something’s got to change now.

Somebody else has got to be the captain of Arsenal.

I didn’t really get it in the first place if I’m being honest. But it does show you that he sets an example, and the youngsters look up to him. That’s why he was made captain.

If you are the manager, of course you’d be disappointed. He’s been made captain of Arsenal Football Club. It’s a big thing and not just a run-of-the-mill thing. And with all the promising young kids at the club, he needs to set the example.

He wouldn’t be the captain if I was manager. Absolutely no chance. It’s an honour to be captain of Arsenal and something’s got to change now. Somebody else has got to be the captain.

Paul Merson

‘It’s a fair decision and a big one from Arteta’

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Ahead of Arsenal’s match against Southampton, Mikel Arteta revealed that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been dropped from the matchday squad because of a breach of discipline.

It’s fair play from the manager but I’m not sure about him being involved against West Ham on Wednesday.

I don’t get that at all. Fair play to Arteta for what he’s done and how he’s handled it so far, but for me, they won the game easily, so why bring him back in?

There are a lot of young kids at Arsenal. They’ve got a young squad. He’s the captain, he’s on big wages and he needs to lead by example. This has happened too many times.

How many times do you see Arsenal play well and Aubameyang doesn’t play well?

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Mikel Arteta was keen to focus on Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Southampton, rather than the absence of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

He does set the tone. A couple of weeks ago they played well against Newcastle and he started it all off. He worked his socks off and they follow him.

He’s got to set a better example off the field, and fair play to Arteta.

It takes a lot to do something like this, especially when you are on a bit of a run and it’s gone the other way.

It’s okay when you are winning nine or 10 on the trot and you can make these kinds of decisions a bit easier, but when you are making a decision like that when you are trying to get a result, fair play to him.

‘Arsenal won’t change a winning team’

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win against Southampton in the Premier League.

I don’t see how you can change the team after the Southampton win.

They dismantled Southampton with some very good goals so for me, you keep the same team with Aubameyang maybe coming back on the bench.

But something had happened before at Everton, where he started on the bench and he didn’t get on until the 85th minute. Eddie Nketiah even got on before him.

This is not going to be a problem for Aubameyang because he’s got an unbelievable contract at the club. However, it’s a major problem for Arsenal.

Paul Merson

‘Auba issue a major problem for Arsenal’

This is not going to be a problem for Aubameyang because he’s got an unbelievable contract at the club.

However, it’s a major problem for Arsenal. Who’s going to take him on those wages? Absolutely nobody in the whole wide world. And there’s his age too. If he was 27, they’d be queuing up around the corner for him, but not now at the age of 32.

It’s a big problem for Arsenal and Arteta.

Can Arsenal mount a top four challenge?

Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:

“Arsenal only have to play once a week and that is an advantage for them.

“If you’d have asked me that question two weeks ago I’d have said they were in a good spot to challenge for the top four. But when I watched them at Everton, who are not very good at all, and there is something missing for Arsenal.

“Everton didn’t even play that well and they still won the game which is a big concern.

“Arsenal are still a bit flakey and Everton just beat them because of pure determination, nothing else. They couldn’t come off the pitch and say how well Everton played, and that’s the big concern for me with Arsenal. It’s still their Achilles heel.”


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Should he feature against West Ham?

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Mikel Arteta addresses Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s omission against Southampton and hints he will be in contention to face West Ham.

At the end of the day, he’s had his punishment. He’s been late, he’s been dropped, and they have won.

I’m sure he’ll be a sub for this game. The manager did do the right thing, but now don’t start chopping your nose off to spite your face.

For me, he will be back involved with the squad and that’s it, but he has got to be careful. The Arsenal fans will start losing patience with him.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says the club have ‘never discussed’ selling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the captain started on the bench for their defeat at Everton.

You are playing for the Arsenal, you are captain of Arsenal and all of a sudden he keeps getting left out for disciplinary reasons like being late or whatever. They are not things he should be doing.

Will he play? Is he going to play well in the game and put in a shift?

If I know he’s going to do that then he plays for Arsenal. He does set the youngsters off because they do look up to him on the pitch.

He is a good player, and he scores goals, and when he does play well the others around him play well, but off the field he’s got to be better.

‘It’s a massive game for both sides’

Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:

“If Arsenal beat West Ham, then they will go above David Moyes’ side. We were talking West Ham finishing in the top four the other day. They’ve got to fourth and now they can’t win a game.

“It’s a massive game and a very difficult game for Arsenal.

“I thought West Ham played well at Burnley, but they just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. They aren’t struggling at the moment, but they are just not picking up those wins they were getting earlier in the season. They probably played as well as they did against Burnley in other games they have won.

“It is a tricky game but if Arsenal can win, they can leapfrog West Ham and build confidence. If you look at Man Utd, they’ve got some nice fixtures coming up, so this is a massive game for both sides.”

How to follow Arsenal vs West Ham with Sky Sports…

Follow Arsenal vs West Ham in our dedicated live match blog on Wednesday.

Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after full-time.

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