Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has admitted that he was not 100 per cent focused on every single match he played for the club before taking the captaincy.
The 31-year-old was made club skipper a year ago after Granit Xhaka was stripped of the armband following a clash with Gunners supporters.
The Gabon star was already a crucial player at The Emirates but the captaincy has elevated his game.
He lifted two trophies for the club this year thanks to a brace in the FA Cup win over Chelsea. His strike also saw Arsenal beat Liverpool in the Community Shield. But the football odds only give the Gunners a 60/1 chance of lifting a first Premier League title since 2004.
But it seems the captaincy has forced Aubameyang to show greater focus in every Gunners game.
“I think [I have changed], yeah,” he told Arsenal.com.
“Because you feel a lot of responsibilities and I think I am trying to give everything in every single game.
“I think before maybe, I don’t know, it was not done on purpose. But maybe sometimes I was a little bit less concerned on certain games.
“But now I am just focusing on every game and trying to give my best. Even if I’m on the bench I try to scream and help my team-mates. So yeah I think it’s changed me.
“I think this is really important because sometimes you can also have bad days and be in a bad mood. So you have to try to change it into positive things.
“This is where I am, how can I say, it’s easy for me to make people maybe happier: to lift them up and that’s my job. I can say that’s my job but I do it naturally.
“I just have to be the example for everyone. If I have to go to the gym to do the upper body I have to go first. Everyone will then follow.
“Because the guys in the gym are waiting and say, ‘If you come then everyone will come! You know that!’ So I say ‘OK, OK’ so now I am the first to go to the gym, this is it.”
Arteta decision over Auba role backed
Mikel Arteta’s decision not to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang centrally has been backed by Julien Laurens, despite the striker uncharacteristically struggling for goals this season.
The international break came at just the right time for Arsenal after suffering three league defeats from four in the run-up.
Arteta has instilled a greater solidity in The Gunners’ backline, though this appears to have been at the expense of their attacking play.
Each of their three recent league defeats came without Arsenal scoring. And Aubameyang’s lack of goals so far starting to raise eyebrows.
The Gabon superstar has been frequently deployed on the left flank. That is a position he has often had to play in during his tenure in north London.
Many argue he is best suited when positioned at the spearhead of the attack, however, though ESPN FC pundit Laurens has moved to explain why this is simply no longer a viable option.