Watford captain Troy Deeney has praised Mikel Arteta’s decision to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal’s recent clash with Tottenham and says the striker ‘isn’t his normal self’ this season.
Aubameyang, 31, turned up late for the north London derby earlier this month and was replaced in the Gunners’ starting XI by Alexandre Lacazette, who went on to score the winner in a 2-1 victory at the Emirates.
Arteta was keen to draw a line under the episode and the Arsenal skipper returned to the fold for the club’s last two matches against Olympiakos and West Ham in the Europa League and Premier League respectively.
But the Gabon international struggled to make an impact in either match and Watford forward Deeney believes there were worrying signs in his play at the London Stadium on Sunday.
‘He wasn’t great yesterday, Deeney told talkSPORT following Arsenal’s 3-3 thriller with the Hammers.
‘I think there was a moment just before he came off where Lacazette gave him the ball on the left. Normally, he’d have a touch and shot and he took one, two, three touches and got caught out.
‘That’s when you know when someone’s not in their normal rhythm.
Let’s be honest he’s a top finisher but normally it’s one touch, shoot. ‘Normally strikers have a favoured position and that’s his, in the box, and he’s going through one of those moments. ‘
He had a short pre-season and the contract stuff affected him.’
Deeney feels Arteta’s decision to leave Aubameyang as an unused substitute against Spurs sent a clear message to Arsenal’s younger players that poor timekeeping will not be tolerated.
‘I think Arteta handled it perfectly,’ he added. ‘If he was late, whether it was 30 minutes or 30 seconds, he was still late
‘He certainly made a statement because if he’d lost that north London derby he’d have been absolutely hammered for that. ‘I think he set a statement and said it doesn’t matter who you are.’