Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists that even captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should not automatically earn a place in his team as he looks to return the Gunners to winning ways.
Aubameyang has not travelled with the squad for Thursday’s Europa League dead-rubber against Dundalk.
Arsenal are already through to the knockout stages and have clinched top spot in Group B after a 100% record. But it is domestically where Arteta is struggling to find a solution to poor form and lacklustre performances.
One of the main problems has been a lack of goals; only the current bottom three have scored fewer than Arsenal’s 10 so far. What’s more, Aubameyang has not scored from open play in the league since the opening weekend.
Arteta said he has resisted the temptation to take the striker to Dundalk to try to improve his form. However, his recent blip does not mean he has an automatic place in his Premier League XI.
“No one is undroppable at the end of the day,” the Spaniard told reporters at his pre-match press conference.
“You have to find the right players to win football matches but we cannot forget what Auba has done for this club and what he’s done in recent months – not years ago.
“And as well because I see how he is training, how he is behaving and how much he wants to turn the situation around.”
Arteta revealed that it is not just Aubameyang who has shown a solid response to the club’s current slump.
Arteta confident of Arsenal fightback
“When I see that type of hunger I stay as a strong supporter to a player when he is established in the team and the performances that he has provided.
“Listen, today and this week, the response I have seen from the players and the reaction I saw from the players after the match, I cannot be any prouder.
“Auba was one of the main guys there and today he was walking the place with an energy that wouldn’t be associated to a team or a player that is suffering at the moment and this is for me the way we have to approach it.”
Arsenal will be looking to make it 18 points from 18 in their Europa League group on Thursday.