A North London Derby win, made even sweeter by the fact it was Jose’s team that got completely outplayed for 80 minutes has made the prospect of a season-defining run of form possible. Do I think we can win the Europa League? I think we can beat every team still in the competition. Do I think we can finish in the top six? If each and every squad member rolls their socks up, apart from Emile who should invariably have them mid-calve high for obvious reasons, then sixth wouldn’t be as audacious as it seemed just four months ago.
Now what I admire about Arteta and what some fans are struggling to grasp, is his dogged approach to the reshaping, rebuilding and transforming of the club, from the ground up, making all of his decisions for “medium and long term” benefits. There have been no short cuts for short term gains.
His first and most controversial being the dropping of his top scorer, captain and club talisman, Aubameyang for the North London Derby of all games. I for one wouldn’t have been surprised to see Auba on the bench anyway, resting for our all or nothing second leg on Thursday.
The disciplinary issue would never have seen the light of day and yet Mikel, carefully and calculated decides to publicly shame the club’s highest earner, something which Arsenal’s previous managers could only dream of doing. Before I get on to the benefits of such a decision and my admiration for it, let’s talk about justification. Auba has reportedly pushed his luck previously, being late to meetings and we all know about his hand tattoo trial, so we can’t be overly surprised that a perfectionist such as Mikel only has 3 strikes before action is taken.
For me, in life, no one is exempt from the rules and the ballsy call to drop the culprit has left fans such as Piers Morgan appalled, as he says; “Turning up a bit late shouldn’t warrant being dropped for a NLD, and for our manager to publicly shame our captain & best player in the way he did was wrong & disrespectful. I stand with Auba.” To start with Piers Auba has made no stance regarding the matter unless you class diving away 20 minutes after the final whistle and skipping a warm down a dramatic, revolutionary move against Arteta.
It is, however, a stance from Mikel, and one which will surely have resonated within the squad and even the youth teams. It is the first public punishment for a “non-negotiable” attempted to be negotiated. Whether you are sponsored by Nike or New Balance, drive a Fiesta or a Ferrari you must abide by the level of standards the manager has set. I don’t think for a second that chaos would’ve ensued if Auba went unpunished or even unpunished in public. But I think somewhere down the line, maybe even this time next season, the precedent could be used to spite Mikel and he would have no leg to stand on after letting Auba off. He had made the hard and in the short term, damaging call to drop the captain and he must’ve found it difficult driving home that night with a four-foot set of bollocks between his legs.
So, let me ask you this; would you prefer to have won the Derby on the weekend with Auba on the pitch and have a mutiny looming (a bit dramatic I know) or have a manager which demands respect from every player and when times get tough, like it did for Unai, the squad keeps its faith like it didn’t for Unai?
What do you think Gooners? Was Arteta right to exclude Aubameyang from the starting lineup on Sunday?
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons