Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ‘not available’ for Leeds match after losing captaincy

Head coach Mikel Arteta said Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was “not available for selection” when Arsenal face Leeds on Saturday.

The 32-year-old was stripped of the captaincy on Tuesday after a series of disciplinary issues, the latest of which was his return from a foreign trip later than agreed last week.

Aubameyang was left out of the squad for Wednesday’s 2-0 win over West Ham and will not feature again when Arsenal travel to Island Road.

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“He is not available for selection,” said Arteta, who only repeated the answer when asked later if Aubameyang still had a future at the club.

Arteta said earlier in the week that Aubameyang “needs time to recover” after his demotion, and sources told ESPN that he is considering his options after this public reprimand.

Arsenal moved into the top four in the Premier League without him midweek, and while other clubs are battling COVID-19 outbreaks of varying severity, they have been relatively unharmed by comparison.

“We’ve had some issues in the past few weeks” with COVID-19, Arteta confirmed, but added, “We’re fine, we’re waiting for more tests we’ll do this afternoon and that’s the only thing we can do: wait and see.”

He also reiterated his call for more clarity in the Premier League’s guidance regarding the postponement of matches.

The league guide states that the club must have 14 players available to meet the match but each request to postpone the match as a result of COVID-19 takes into account additional factors including the severity of the situation and whether the club should close their training ground.

“In terms of health, I hope we can do everything we can to protect everyone,” Arteta said. “Obviously the vaccine protocols are in place, everyone is trying their best and I am sure that with everything we do we can do everything we can to keep everyone healthy.

“In terms of competition, there are two things: We need more clarity about why those matches are not played and what you need to not play a match, so we are playing in the same league. Ultimately, the most important thing is that we are able to maintain in context the fairness of the competition and that Something big for me now.”

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