- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw red against Crystal Palace in Premier League
- The striker will miss Arsenal’s next three matches after VAR intervened vs Palace
- His absence will come as a massive blow to new Gunners manager Mikel Arteta
- Aubameyang has scored 14 goals in the Premier League – joint second-highest
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will miss games vs Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth
The Gabon forward has 14 of Arsenal’s 29 goals in the Premier League so far this campaign
Mikel Arteta has a huge task on his hands to cope without the suspended Arsenal captain
Arteta will rely on Alexandre Lacazette to step up to the plate in the absence of Aubameyang
The French striker has struggled in front of goal for the Gunners following his ankle injury
Gabriel Martinelli has been a shining light for Arsenal in what has been a difficult season
Nicolas Pepe needs to start performing on a consistent basis following his £72million move
When VAR intervened following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s lunge on Max Meyer in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, Arsenal fans collectively inhaled a deep breath.
Not only could the outcome of Aubameyang’s challenge potentially have affected the final result at Selhurst Park, but it could also negatively impact Arsenal’s mini-revival under Mikel Arteta.
And after a few minutes of deliberation, Aubameyang was eventually shown red – much to the despair of the Arsenal faithful – meaning he will now miss the next three matches against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth.
Pierre-Emerick Auabemayang: 14
Alexandre Lacazette: 5
Nicolas Pepe: 3
David Luiz: 2
Calum Chambers: 1
Gabriel Martinelli: 1
Lucas Torreira: 1
The red card comes as a huge blow to Arteta and Arsenal as they will now have to find another source of inspiration in front of goal.
Aubameyang, captain and star striker, has incredibly netted 14 out of Arsenal’s 29 goals in the Premier League so far this season.
Take Aubameyang out of the team, and the Gunners have suffered with huge stage-fright in front of goal – Alexandre Lacazette has the next most with just five strikes.
And following the final whistle on the weekend, Arteta urged his players to step up and be counted in the absence of the Gabon international, who has been deadly in front of goal ever since his £56million move from Borussia Dortmund.
‘Hopefully they have to take a step forward now he’s not able to contribute to the team with goals like this, someone else has to do it and I want to see their reaction too,’ Arteta said.
‘Auba was very disappointed [with the red card incident]. He was sorry, obviously he is not a player that has ever done that in his career.
Arsenal vs Sheffield United – January 18 (Premier League)
Chelsea vs Arsenal – January 21 (Premier League)
Bournemouth vs Arsenal – January 27 (FA Cup)
‘We are losing probably the most important player, this is never nice. We have other players that can play in that position. We will try to find a way and be as competitive as possible.’
But just how exactly will Arteta cope without Aubameyang as he looks to rebuild the confidence of Arsenal’s squad?
After taking over the reins at the Emirates, Arteta has opted for an attacking line of three in behind Lacazette, with Aubameyang drifting in from the left flank to double up with the Frenchman up top.
However, the goal threat has single-handedly been coming from Aubameyang, with Lacazette looking extremely shot of confidence.
Since recovering from an ankle injury, the Frenchman has looked out of sorts and the longer his goal-drought goes on, the more worrying it will become for Arsenal.
So it’s imperative that in Aubameyang’s absence he steps up to the plate and leads by example up top, not only for his own good but Arsenal’s fortunes going forward.
The former Lyon man will continue to lead the line for the north London outfit but Aubameyang’s red card will offer the chance for Brazilian starlet Gabriel Martinelli to impress his new boss.
Martinelli has been one of Arsenal’s shining lights this season, starring in the Europa League and Carabao Cup before netting his first Premier League goal in the 3-1 victory at West Ham back in December.
The 18-year-old hasn’t really been able to impress Arteta yet because of a hamstring injury, but a cameo appearance against Crystal Palace would certainly have done enough to put him in contention against Sheffield United on Saturday.
Martinelli’s hard-working philosophy and an eye for goal means he is most likely to fill the void left by Aubameyang as Arsenal prepare to do battle with buoyant Sheffield United, London rivals Chelsea and Bournemouth.
If not Martinelli, then Reiss Nelson – who started Arteta’s first two matches – or Bukayo Saka might be given the chance to support Lacazette.
But while all the debate surrounds who will replace the joint second-highest goalscorer in the Premier League for the next three games, Pepe really needs to start repaying Arsenal’s faith.
The Ivory Coast international has shown promising signs that he is worth the £72million Arsenal paid but he is yet to produce his best on a consistent basis.
So Arteta will be desperate for Pepe to make his mark on the Premier League, and there will be no better time to do that than in the absence of Aubameyang.
With Arsenal’s goal threat from midfield very minimal at the moment, it is vital Lacazette and Co deliver the goods to maintain the positive atmosphere surrounding Arteta’s early days as manager.