Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s reunion with Mikel Arteta adds drama to pivotal London derby

Arteta said he knew he had lost Aubameyang’s trust by the look in his eyes

Arsenal are the resurgent force, up against a work in progress in Chelsea, and an away win could signify the changing of directions in a derby where superiority has been so clearly set in recent years. Aubameyang remains the hero of Arsenal’s FA Cup victory over Chelsea in 2020 and scored 92 goals for the club, but the Gunners are a team transformed in the time between his departure and his reunion with them.

The point of inflection in their turnaround under Arteta might have come from their separation, when the relationship between manager and captain completely fell apart. Arteta lost trust in Aubameyang, to the extent that he kept a dossier of his misdemeanours. He was ruthlessly stripped of the captaincy, banished from training and Arteta backed himself despite doubts from his backroom staff when it came to ripping up Aubameyang’s contract.

Recommended



It established Arteta as the leader of the dressing room, which was left “scared” of stepping out of line after what had happened to their captain, as Mohamed Elneny revealed so fascinatingly to a group of reporters this week ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. “We don’t allow big egos,” Elneny said. “This is the dressing room we have now. Everyone loves each other and everyone works for each other. This is what actually makes our squad really strong, because we don’t have egos in the team.”

The impact also became two-fold in the summer, as the gamble of allowing Aubameyang to leave also paved the way for the influential Gabriel Jesus to arrive. Although Jesus is now without a goal in eight games, the Brazilian offers so much more. He leads the press, can hold the ball with his back to goal, and his presence leading the line helps bring the elements of Arsenal’s attack together.

Jesus is, in many ways, the opposite to Aubameyang, a player who can still supply goals but often now struggles to offer much else. From an attacking perspective, Jesus had more touches in Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest than Aubameyang has managed in his last three Premier League starts combined. Jesus is also the defender from the front and, when the goals dried up for Aubameyang at Arsenal, Arteta saw the requirement for an attacker who brings value when his team is out of possession, too.

Mikel Arteta and Gabriel Jesus

It has, though, been a whirlwind year for Aubameyang. Discarded by Arteta, brought in by Barcelona, replaced by Robert Lewandowski and taken back to the Premier League by Thomas Tuchel, only to see his former Borussia Dortmund coach sacked and replaced within days of his arrival. Under Potter, Aubameyang has scored three goals while missing plenty more chances, though he remains a striker with a sense of occasion: two of his goals have come against AC Milan in the best wins for the Chelsea manager so far. “He’s been pretty normal from what I’ve seen,” Potter said. “Quite a quiet guy. I’m sure come match day he’ll be determined.”

Yet it is difficult to see Aubameyang as Potter’s ideal striker. In the same way as Arteta came to his conclusion, Potter might look to Aubameyang with the same realisation as he continues to find the balance in his Chelsea team, suddenly winless in three in the Premier League and at risk of being as many as 13 points behind Arsenal by the end of the weekend.

Potter can sympathise with the attention Aubameyang is getting ahead of his reunion, as last week Potter’s return to Brighton was all about him. He ended up humiliated, though, his Chelsea side torn apart by Roberto de Zerbi, the Italian out-Pottering Potter. Chelsea now have an opportunity to strike a blow, as much as it is a chance for Arsenal to put down a marker. Since last winning the Premier League in 2004, Arsenal have finished ahead of Chelsea only twice. This is a pivotal moment for Arteta’s side, potentially showing where their level is this season.

Aubameyang in action against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday

Off the pitch, the heat has been turned up in recent weeks following comments from Aubameyang that leaked while he was in Barcelona, suggesting Arteta “can’t deal with big characters and big players” in his team. “He needs some young players who don’t say anything; they listen,” Aubameyang added, before taking to Twitter to clarify: “Aware there is a video out that was recorded just after I arrived at Barca. At the time I still had a lot of bad feelings in me – Arsenal are doing great things this season and I wish all my old guys well, just not on 6 November…”

Arteta replied with an answer that can only be seen in such scenarios as a dig. Without referencing Aubameyang directly, he said: “I have never been in a better dressing room [than this season] – more enjoyable, more hard-working, a better relationship between staff and players, and it is an absolute pleasure as a coach to be a part of this group.”

Arteta also praised Aubameyang this week, but the devil was in what was not said. “If Auba has something, it’s the ability to put the ball in the back of the net,” Arteta replied, which rather alludes to what the striker doesn’t have.

Recommended



The truth is, though, as much as the drama and conflict have been played up, it will be have been done so as much by neutrals and commentators as by the fans themselves. Arsenal, top of the table at the start of the weekend, are happy with where and who they are and, if anything, it is the Chelsea fans who are in need of convincing. Come Sunday, it means the stage is set for Aubameyang to prove a few wrong.

Chelsea v Arsenal is on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate on Sunday, with coverage starting at 11.30am. KO, 12 noon

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

https://sportstoft.com/soccer/man-utd-privately-watching-vlahovic-as-ronaldo-nears-exit-in-twist/

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Source: Read Full Article