Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has hit back at former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s criticism – he insists his current squad are “more diligent” than in previous years.
Aubamayang left Emirates Stadium for Barcelona in February after his contract was torn up after not being in and around the first-team after Arteta dropped his then-skipper for returning late from an agreed break was.
His stay in Spain lasted just seven months before returning to the Premier League with Chelsea and a video has surfaced in recent days of the Gabon striker taking aim at Arteta’s management skills.
“To manage big characters or big players, he (Arteta) can’t handle it,” Aubameyang said in an interview with A Jewelers.
“He (Arteta) needs some young players, they don’t say anything, they listen.”
Since the video was first shared, Aubameyang has taken to social media to explain his comments, posting part of a tweet that read: “I know there is a video that was taken shortly after I arrived at Barca . I still had a lot of bad feelings in me at the time – Arsenal are doing great things this season and I wish all my old boys well, just not on November 6th.”
Arteta was asked about Aubameyang’s comments on the eve of Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Bodo/Glimt.
“People are free to discuss whatever they want,” he told reporters in Norway.
“I’ve never been in a better dressing room (than this season) – more comfortable, hardworking, better staff-player relationships and it’s an absolute pleasure as a coach to be part of this group.”
The Gunners are top of the Premier League table after beating Liverpool 3-2 on Sunday, a game in which Gabriel Jesus won the penalty which Bukayo Saka converted to take the three points.
The Brazilian striker has been in fine form since joining from Manchester City in the summer but was left at home for Thursday’s game inside the Arctic Circle.
“Of course we thought that after everything he’s been through in the last few weeks, it would be better to stay at home,” explained Arteta.
“What we think is how we’re going to win the game, that’s it. How we win all three games, under different conditions, in different contexts, in different weather and in different competitions, and that’s the only way we’re approaching the game.
“At the end of the day we will have XI players on this pitch, our selection based on how we think we will win the game – that’s it.”