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Arsenal: Joe Cole backs Mikel Arteta over decision to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of captaincy

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Joe Cole backs Mikel Arteta’s decision to strip £350,000-a-week star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy as he insists it’s ‘sacrilege for players to be late’ and fans ‘would go through walls to wear that shirt’

  • Mikel Arteta elected to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal’s captaincy
  • The Gabon striker this week returned late from a trip to France to help his mum
  • He was not in the squad for the game against West Ham for his discipline breach
  • BT pundit Joe Cole feels it is sacrilegious for professional footballers to be late 


Joe Cole believes Mikel Arteta was ‘right’ to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal’s captaincy with immediate effect because players reporting late to training and matches is ‘sacrilege’. 

Arsenal confirmed the £350,000-a-week striker had been relieved of the armband following his ‘latest’ disciplinary breach last week, which saw him return back late from France after collecting his sick mother. 

It marked a third disciplinary breach from the Gabonese striker and for former Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder Cole, it was correct call from Arteta to take the captaincy away from him.     

Joe Cole supports the decision to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy

 Joe Cole supports the decision to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy

Aubameyang headed back to France last week to visit his mother, who has been unwell

Aubameyang headed back to France last week to visit his mother, who has been unwell

Cole (pictured) believes it was the 'right' decision because 'it is sacrilege for players to be late'

Cole (pictured) believes it was the ‘right’ decision because ‘it is sacrilege for players to be late’

‘I think it’s a brave decision but I think it’s the right decision,’ Cole told BT Sport.

‘This wouldn’t have been the first incident and when I look at (Patrick) Vieira, (Tony) Adams, etc, they had problems, which were well documented, but they were leaders. 

‘I was never comfortable with Aubameyang in that leadership group. There are a lot of people in this stadium that would go through walls to wear that Arsenal shirt. I think it’s sacrilege for players to be late, I really do.’

Asked why Arsenal have continually had issues with those chosen to wear the armband in recent years, Cole added: ‘It’s a cultural issue. 

‘I used to go to Highbury and there would be a fear-factor with great leaders on the pitch but that slowly has been eroded. It was because of lack of leadership on that pitch.’ 

Arteta gave short shrift to pre-match questions about when Aubameyang will be brought back into the squad for selection, insisting that ‘for now’ the striker is not involved.

His late return to Arsenal has been a cause for dismay and he has now lost the armband

His late return to Arsenal has been a cause for dismay and he has now lost the armband

The Arsenal striker took to social media to explain the reason for his late return

The Arsenal striker took to social media this week to explain the reason for his absence

Martin Keown, a Sportsmail columnist, feels while the call is ‘brave’ it could have waited until the end of the season. 

Aubameyang was going to collect his sick mother and Keown also put forth the moral dilemma of what is more important than family.   

‘I do feel it could have been left to the end of the season,’ Keown said. 

‘Obviously there is an appetite for change and he must be a serious offender but over the years there have been captains who have offended far more than this but they were leaders of men. (Arteta) must not see him as a leader. 

‘The storm around it, we are talking about it now, but it has to work tonight for me. (Arteta) is paid to manage, that is what he is doing but I do feel it’s a bold decision. 

‘We talk about mental health and we don’t know the mental health of Aubameyang at the minute. Let’s see what happens from here on in.

‘Do you decide between the team or your family? Who is more important than your family? The fact he was able to go in the first place seems the wrong call. Maybe the club could have sent someone. We move forward now as a football club.’  

Aubameyang has scored seven goals in 15 games in all competitions for Arsenal this season

Aubameyang has scored seven goals in 15 games in all competitions for Arsenal this season

AUBAMEYANG’S THREE STRIKES

FEBRUARY 2021

With the country in lockdown, Aubameyang was filmed posing with a new tattoo alongside a tattoo artist.

Arsenal investigated the incident to find out if lockdown rules had been breached but kept their findings in-house, with Arteta saying: ‘Whatever we do with our players we keep it internally. 

‘It is true that there are a lot of members of our squad that have extended families at home and if any player does something that is not in the regulation obviously the club acts immediately – but always privately as well.’

MARCH 2021

Aubameyang was left on the bench for the north London derby due to lateness. 

‘He was going to start the game,’ Arteta told Sky Sports. ‘We had a disciplinary issue. We have drawn the line and we move on. He is on the bench.

‘We have a process we have to respect for every game and that is it. We have a way of leaving together that we have to respect each other and that is it.

‘But he is an incredible guy and he is one of the most important players in the team, he is our captain, and we move forward.’

Arsenal won the game 2-1, with Aubameyang an unused substitute. 

DECEMBER 2021

Having returned late from a pre-approved trip to France to visit his ill mother, Aubameyang has lost the captian’s armband at Arsenal and his future has been thrown into major doubt. 

In a curt statement on Tuesday, Arsenal said: ‘Following his latest disciplinary breach last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer be our club captain, and will not be considered for selection for Wednesday’s match against West Ham United.

‘We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed. We are fully focused on tomorrow’s match.’

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