Mikel Arteta says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not assured of his place in the team despite captaining the club, but has backed the Arsenal skipper to end his goal drought.
He has not scored a goal from open play in the Premier League since the opening day of the campaign, with a penalty against Man United his only contribution in his last 888 minutes of football action.
Arteta has resisted the temptation to boost Aubameyang’s confidence with a run-out against Dundalk on Thursday, with the Gabon star left at home along with some other first-team players.
The Arsenal manager is confident that the player will re-find his shooting boots, though did admit that Aubameyang needs to justify his place in the side.
Asked if Aubameyang was undroppable, Arteta said: ‘No-one is undroppable. ‘At the end of the day 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 has done in recent months, or a year ago.
‘And as well because I see how he is training, how he is behaving, how much he wants to turn this situation around.
‘And when I see that type of hunger, I stay strong to support that player with his status in the team and the performances that he has provided for this group.’
When asked about Aubameyang’s reaction to his recent struggles, Arteta continued: ‘Listen, today and this week, the response and reaction I saw from the players after the match, I cannot be any prouder.
‘I know how difficult it is for everyone at the moment, after losing a derby you can be completely down, and I saw a completely different team. A team that wants to fight, that is united, that has a big belief in what they are trying to do and they want to push themselves harder and harder.
‘And Auba was one of the main guys there and today he was walking around the place with an energy that wouldn’t be associated to a team and a player that is suffering at the moment. So for me, this is the way we have to approach it.’