Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can handle Arsenal boo boys and send Mikel Arteta message in Chelsea reunion

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can handle Arsenal boo boys and send Mikel Arteta message in Chelsea reunion

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can expect a frosty reception from the away end at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

If the former Arsenal captain was not already a target for the boo boys following his move to Chelsea, then his pre-game promotional video on BT Sport has really stoked the fire. “Arsenal, nothing personal. I’m back. I’m blue. I’m ready,” says Aubameyang in a message to camera ahead of the reunion against his old club.

Aubameyang scored 92 goals in 163 games during four years at Arsenal and captained the Gunners when they won the FA Cup in 2020. But his spell at Emirates Stadium ended badly and a video surfaced recently in which he reignited his feud with Mikel Arteta by claiming the Arsenal manager cannot handle “big characters or big players”.

Arteta will feel his decision to strip Aubameyang of the captaincy has been vindicated, with Arsenal two points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. The spotlight will be on Aubameyang but he has the mentality to handle the pressure and will be desperate to prove a point.

Aubameyang has looked a different player at Chelsea to the one who left Arsenal for Barcelona in January. He has gone six games without a goal but a shot that hit the crossbar against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday was a reminder of his threat.

Reunion: Chelsea striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang faces former club Arsenal on Sunday (Action Images via Reuters)
Reunion: Chelsea striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang faces former club Arsenal on Sunday (Action Images via Reuters)

The striker will not shy away from what promises to be a difficult afternoon. He had to show a strong mentality to deal with an armed robbery at his home in Barcelona this year when he suffered a broken jaw defending his family.

Aubameyang then took the “cursed” Chelsea No9 shirt and, after Thomas Tuchel was sacked one game after the striker’s move from Barcelona, went on to score three goals in Graham Potter’s first four games. That resilience and his performances under pressure are why Potter is set to rely on him in the Chelsea attack this weekend, despite his goals drying up of late.

Potter has been particularly impressed with Aubameyang’s work off the field. He is mentoring young striker Armando Broja and has always been warm with the fans, support staff and the media.

Like Aubameyang’s former coaches Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp and current Paris Saint-Germain manager Christophe Galtier, Potter has built a bond with the Gabon international. They would all speak well about Aubameyang, which might not be the case with Arteta.

Whether there is a handshake or embrace between Aubameyang and Arteta, it is an intriguing sub-plot to Sunday’s London derby. Aubameyang still has a tattoo of both him and his children in Arsenal No14 shirts on his right arm, showing the love he had for the club. But he has now nailed his colours to the mast as he bids to help Chelsea close the gap to the Premier League leaders.