You have to hand it to Mikel Arteta – he certainly has the minerals to make some massive calls and his decision to bench Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal’s Europa League visit of Slavia Prague proved it once again.
Despite a bit of patchy form this season, Aubameyang is Arsenal’s most dangerous player and has been ever since he arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Dortmund a little over three years ago.
But he had a difficult game against Liverpool in North London last weekend and Arteta, just like he did for the victory against Tottenham Hotspur last month, excluded his go-to-guy from the first XI.
Unlike the Spurs game, it might’ve cost Arsenal last night, though.
When Arsenal needed a goal, Arteta threw Aubameyang into the mix on 78 minutes and the Gabon international had a swift impact by setting up Nicolas Pepe as the Gunners looked set to win 1-0, but the Czech outfit struck a last-gasp equaliser to nick an away goal and inevitably there’s questions over whether the former Dortmund marksman should have started, given how good he looked in the final 12 minutes.
The 31-year-old will himself feel that he should have made the first XI and ESPN reported last night that Aubameyang did not speak or even look at anybody once the full-time whistle sounded, just trudged toward the tunnel.
Nothing but a win will do for Arsenal in Prague in six days and although Arteta clearly has the courage to snub his most dangerous asset, doing so again next week would be lunacy.