Arsenal look set to be without club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for tonight’s Europa League clash against Slavia Prague.
The Gunners have got their work cut out in the Czech Republic, with Mikel Arteta’s side conceding a late away goal at the Emirates to leave the tie finely poised at 1-1 after the first leg.
The north Londoners have a few concerns heading into the game on Thursday night, including Aubameyang, and Arteta delivered a worrying update on the Gabon international’s chances of featuring in his pre-match press conference.
He said: “I don’t know we have to see today how they are. Depending how they wake up. If they wake up better yes. Yesterday none of them could train. Hopefully today it’s a sunnier day so maybe it’s better.”
Since then however, pictures from the club’s final training sessions ahead of the Slavia clash have emerged, and there were no signs of either Aubameyang or fellow injury concern Martin Odegaard.
The £31.5m-rated Aubameyang is the man who wears the armband for the Gunners, and the player who others rally behind, and while his current campaign hasn’t seen him hit his usual heights – he’s scored just 14 goals this season – he’s still a big-name player for Arteta.
Speaking after the 3-0 win over Newcastle earlier this season, teammate Granit Xhaka made it clear just how influential Aubameyang is for the team, and that he is a vital presence in the changing room too.
He said: “Everyone knows how important he is for us – not only on the pitch, but off the pitch as well. Of course, every player has these moments where it is not going well for them. But he has kept going and training hard.”
His goal-scoring record over the years is second-to-none – after all, he was the Premier League Golden Boot winner a couple of seasons ago and just missed out last year – and when he’s on song, he’s a devastating threat.
It’s exactly why Aubameyang’s absence tonight would be a major blow for Arsenal, and will leave Arteta hugely disappointed to be without his talisman and captain.