Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang axe ‘scared’ Arsenal stars as Mikel Arteta’s Gunners thrive without big egos

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang axe ‘scared’ Arsenal stars as Mikel Arteta’s Gunners thrive without big egos

Mohamed Elneny believes Mikel Arteta truly established his authority at Arsenal when he stripped Pierre-­Emerick Aubameyang of the captaincy, and has revealed players became fearful about what could happen to them if they stepped out of line.

Aubameyang will line up for Chelsea against his former club in a huge derby at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The striker scored 92 goals during four years at Arsenal but his spell ended badly after he fell out with Arteta.

In a video which surfaced recently, the striker reignited his feud with Arteta, claiming the Arsenal boss cannot handle “big characters or big players”. But Elneny says the Gunners are thriving without “big egos” in their dressing room.

Arsenal sit top of the Premier League and Elneny feels the departure of Aubameyang to Barcelona in January unified the club. Asked if the moment Arteta stripped Aubameyang of the captaincy was when the Spaniard really established himself at Arsenal, Elneny said: “100 per cent.

“Now everyone looked at themselves because Mikel did that to the captain of the team. What is he going to do with another player?

Mikel Arteta stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy before his exit (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Mikel Arteta stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy before his exit (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“This showed that now we can’t play around, now we have to be calm with the team and the way the team is going we have to stick with the team, not do something different. We agree with what Mikel decided because he is our boss and we just have to agree what his vision is for [us].”

As well as sitting two points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, Arsenal also secured top spot in their Europa League group by beating FC Zurich 1-0 last night. Kieran Tierney scored as the Gunners ensured a bye to the last-16.

Much of Arsenal’s success has been put down to a new-found mental strength and Elneny believes the make-up of the dressing room is key to that. “We don’t allow big egos,” said the midfielder. “This is the dressing room we have now.

“Everyone loves each other and everyone works for each other. This is what actually makes our squad really strong, because we don’t have egos in the team.”

Stripping Aubameyang of the captaincy last December for a perceived lack of commitment was a big call by Arteta. The Gabon international was the highest-paid player at Arsenal on about £350,000 a week.

Everyone looked at themselves because Mikel did that to the captain of the team. What is he going to do with another player?

Asked if the decision unified the club, Elneny said: “I think so, because now everyone was scared!

“Everyone is scared with their position because this happened to Aubameyang. Of course if anyone is not the captain of the team, does a small mistake, they are going to have the same problem, and no one needs that problem.”

Arsenal can move 13 points clear of Chelsea with a win on Sunday and have set their sights on being top by when the seasons breaks for the World Cup.

There are just two Premier League fixtures before that, with the Gunners travelling to Wolves next weekend.

“We know we have a good team, we have good staff and Mikel really makes us feel like we are a really strong team now,” said Elneny. “We just believe every day we can do something special this year.

“The squad now is really strong and everyone is pushing hard, because we know Arsenal is a big club and we need to put Arsenal in the place they actually deserve. This is what we play for.

“Now we know what we are going there (Stamford Bridge) to do, because now we know we look for the title. Of course we are going to give everything.”