Gabriel Agbonlahor has questioned the decision making of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, claiming his recent call will have left his main man “angry”.
Arsenal suffered their second straight defeat on Monday night when falling to Everton 2-1. The Gunners led at the break, but late goals from Richarlison and Demarai Gray helped earn Rafael Benitez a pressure-easing win.
While Arsenal led mid-way through the second half, Arteta curiously chose to introduce Eddie Nketiah to the action ahead of club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang did make an appearance with five minutes remaining after Everton had equalised, though missed a golden opportunity in the game’s final act.
Aubameyang hasn’t hit top form this season, though the decision to favour Nketiah was surprising given he appears destined to leave in either of the next two windows. The young forward is in the final year of his contract and a new deal is yet to materialise.
The odd decision was highlighted by Gary Neville while working on Monday Night Football. Neville predicted there would be a “problem” brewing between Arteta and Aubameyang following the game.
Now, ex-Aston Villa forward Agbonlahor has echoed Neville’s sentiments.
Agbonlahor told Football Insider that the manager’s call will have left his striker “frustrated” and “angry”. Agbonlahor also took aim at the club’s second choice striker – Alexandre Lacazette – when claiming the Frenchman “doesn’t offer anything”.
Arteta call could backfire
“Arsenal just didn’t make sense to me,” said Agbonlahor.
“They just lacked the passion to go and get a second goal. [They] were timewasting, sitting back and letting Everton come onto them. They should have tried to get a second goal.
“It was very strange tactics but this is Arsenal, this has been Arsenal for 10 years. They will win a few games, put in some good performances and then lose games they should win. This doesn’t surprise me.
“There’s not enough leaders. Not starting Aubameyang didn’t work.
Arsenal to take different approach to tie down Alexandre Lacazette to a new contract
Arsenal remain in a contract stand-off with Alexandre Lacazette, but are hoping that a new strategy will secure the striker’s future in north London., with more news on Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe.
“Lacazette is not the answer, he doesn’t offer anything for me. He can’t hold the ball up, he doesn’t run in behind.
“Aubameyang is in bad form but he’s still Arsenal’s best striker. To bring him on after Nketiah as well, it just didn’t make sense to me. No way he’s going to be happy with that.
“He’s the captain of the club, the talisman. You understand you’re in bad form so you might be dropped. But you think you’ll be the first sub on, not given five minutes at the end.
“He’ll definitely be frustrated by that and angry.”
Transfer timeframe leaves Arsenal kicking their heels
Meanwhile, Arteta will be left disappointed after the transfer of a teenage talent to Arsenal was put on hold for another year.
Reports claim they are looking into the signing of Ianis Stoica from Romanian side Steaua Bucharest. He is a tricky right winger who has the potential to secure a big-money move in the near future.
During an interview in November, Steaua Bucharest chief Gigi Becali said Stoica would remain in his homeland until the age of 22-23 – up to four years from now.
But Becali has now put a new timeframe on the starlet’s future.
He said (via Sport Witness): “Things are clear with Ianis Stoica. That I asked €10m for Ianis Stoica even though I was offered €7m is another matter. I know why I asked for that money, and I know why I said that publicly.
“But for me, things are very clear. You won’t see 18 or 19-year-old players leave me. I’m not going to let go of young footballers from Steaua Bucharest after two or three showers taken in my team’s locker room.
“I have my strategy and we will make the transfers one by one. Whoever did his job for Becali, and I am satisfied with him, it will be his turn to leave. Ianis Stoica is just beginning. So is Tavi Popescu. They will leave me at the age of 23-24.”