Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal have learned not to be so reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the forward will again be missing for Saturday’s visit of Manchester United.
The Gunners captain missed the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Southampton on Saturday as well as the 3-1 Premier League victory over Saints three days later, explaining on social media that his absence was due to his mother suffering from “health issues”.
A return in time to face United was always in doubt as the PA news agency understands he would require a negative Covid-19 test, even if he felt in a suitable condition to play.
It is also believed he has yet to fully train with his team-mates and will be missing from the side as Arsenal look to continue a run of six games unbeaten in the Premier League.
Facing United without their skipper and one of their major goal threats will be a loss for the hosts, but Arteta feels more players have stepped up in recent times so that Aubameyang’s absence will not be felt as acutely.
“That is something that we had to improve and address dramatically,” he said when asked if he was no longer reliant on Aubameyang.
“If you want to have any chance of competing with the top teams in this league, just to rely on one player is completely insufficient and it won’t be sustainable over time.
“But having said that, we know the importance of Auba and his goals and his contribution to the team. The more we have him, the stronger we are for sure as well.”
Aubameyang had travelled with the squad for the FA Cup tie at St Mary’s on Saturday before leaving just hours before kick-off.
“Hey guys, Thank you so much for all the messages and calls over the last few days,” he wrote on Instagram.
“My mother is going through some health issues and I had to be there for her. She’s already much better now and I will be back home tonight.
“I’m more than grateful to the doctors and nurses helping her get through this.
“And of course, thanks to my Arsenal fam for the love yesterday! I’m more determined than ever to keep our momentum going!
“Thank you all again – I really am beyond blessed to receive this level of support and love from all of you and I can’t wait to be back. – PEA.”
Arteta has a number of injury doubts ahead of the game but both Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe should be available having limped out of the midweek win.
Kieran Tierney may return but has been struggling with a leg issue, while Dani Ceballos could come in after a calf complaint.