Arteta reveals why Aubameyang isn't in Arsenal squad to face Southampton in FA Cup
Mikel Arteta has revealed why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn't in Arsenal's squad to face Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon.
Aubameyang was left out of Arteta's final 20-man squad for the fourth-round tie, with Eddie Nketiah stepping in to lead the line his absence.
The Spaniard explained the reason behind the Gabon international's omission during a pre-match interview, telling reporters: "He had a personal matter in the last few hours and we had to send him back."
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Arsenal will now have to make do without a prized asset as the Gunners continue their defence of the FA Cup, having beaten Newcastle 2-0 in the previous round.
Aubameyang scored twice in a 3-0 win over the Magpies in the Premier League on Monday, but has not made his way to St Mary's Stadium with the rest of the squad.
The 31-year-old has struggled for form and fitness throughout the 2020-21 campaign, with his latest top-flight double taking his tally to just eight goals in 20 appearances across all competitions.
Some have suggested that Aubameyang has allowed his standards to slip since committing to a bumper new contract at Emirates Stadium in September, but Arsenal legend Ian Wright attempted to silence his critics after the Newcastle game.
"People have been talking about his form, signing his contract then clocking off, it’s rubbish, he just didn’t get chances, not chances like that [against Newcastle]," said Wright.
"We’ve seen him score chances like the second goal where he’s in the middle of the box because Arsenal created something, they haven’t been creating things.
"Now with [Bukayo] Saka’s emergence, Emile Smith Rowe’s emergence, great play from Cedric [Soares], there’s always balls going into the box, chances being made, and he’ll come alive again."
Fans will hope that Aubameyang will be available for selection again when Arsenal face Southampton in the Premier League on Tuesday, with it being unclear exactly what the personal matter refers to.
Update: Arteta said after the 1-0 defeat to Southampton that the Gunners would support their striker, although he couldn't say if he'd be involved in the league match against the Saints. The Spaniard said: "I don’t know.
"He needs to address that issue to see how it evolves. We’re here, we will have to support him. He needs to take the time that is needed because that’s a priority at the moment."