Mikel Arteta claims Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is thriving as captain of Arsenal’s young squad and ‘playing with a smile on his face’ again after last season’s slump
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has started the season well scoring four goals
- The Arsenal striker is coming off a poor season last time around in front of goal
- Mikel Arteta says the 32-year-old is bringing a positive energy to the team
- The Spaniard also hailed the leadership skills displayed by Aubameyang
Mikel Arteta has hailed the leadership skills of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and admitted his Arsenal captain is ‘playing with a smile on his face’ once again.
Aubameyang endured the leanest season of his career at the Emirates last year, scoring only 10 Premier League goals as the Gunners finished a lowly eighth.
But the Gabon striker has returned to form this term with four goals in his last six top-flight games. And Arteta admits Aubameyang is thriving as captain of Arsenal’s young side following conversations he held with the 32-year-old in the summer.
Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) is ‘playing with a smile on his face’ again
‘Obviously when you have a season where as a team and individually we haven’t fulfilled our expectations, we have to find the reasons why,’ explained Arsenal boss Arteta. ‘How we can change, how we can improve, how we can help him to improve certain things that are going to have a huge impact on the team.
‘He’s been so willing to lead from the start and I’m so pleased because his role is different to the one that he had two or three years ago. Now he needs to lead in every sense and he’s doing that and I’m really happy with it.
‘I think he is enjoying it and as you can see on the pitch, he is playing with a smile on his face. He is transmitting energy, passion, willingness – not only on the pitch but outside the pitch as well.
The Arsenal striker is coming off his weakest season in front of goal at the Emirates
Arteta is pleased with Aubameyang’s impact this season after his return to form
‘That’s what we want. A happy Auba is linked with his character and that’s what he’s able to transmit to everybody. That energy is always positive for the team.’
Aubameyang is likely to be paired with Alexandre Lacazette again against Leicester on Saturday after enjoying success together in last Friday’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa.
Arteta, though, is still sweating on the fitness of some of his players, including centre-half Ben White, after a sickness bug that has gone around his squad this week.
Arteta admitted Aubameyang is thriving as captain of Arsenal’s youthful looking side
Aubameyang is likely to be paired with Alexandre Lacazette against Leicester on Saturday
‘There has been a few that haven’t been able to train,’ admitted Arteta. ‘It was a bit of sickness, feeling tummy aches and stuff like that. But hopefully today, everyone will be OK.’
Arteta also brushed off talk linking him to the vacant manager’s job at Barcelona – the club where he started his career. Ronald Koeman was sacked by the La Liga giants this week and although former Barca star Xavi is the favourite to replace him, Arteta’s name has also been mentioned.
But the Spaniard said: ‘I am extremely happy at Arsenal. I feel privileged to be here. My only focus is here.’
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