Mikel Arteta has insisted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s return to the central striker role is not a permanent fixture despite claims he “doesn’t believe” in Alexandre Lacazette.
The Gunners’ captain Aubameyang was restored to his preferred position through the middle of Arsenal’s attack in the 4-2 win over Leeds on Sunday.
He even bagged himself an impressive hat-trick – his first in the Premier League – to answer his critics following his indifferent early season form.
Meanwhile Lacazette had to watch on as a spectator from the sidelines, despite being Arsenal’s leading goal scorer going into the clash.
And former Arsenal and Man Utd forward Andy Cole believes Lacazette was left out because Arteta is simply not his biggest fan.
“Look at Lacazette and I’m disappointed for him because I don’t think Arteta believes in him,” Cole told talkSPORT .
“He’s looking at Aubameyang coming back in after two games on the bench, gets himself a hat-trick… he’ll be saying to himself, ‘that could have been me.’”
Lacazette had started Arsenal’s previous seven league matches – a number of which Aubameyang was unavailable for.
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But Arteta was adamant his decision to recall his skipper was purely for tactical reasons, and was keen to stress that his selection will vary with each game.
Asked about the performance of Aubameyang after the victory, Arteta said: “Yes, I thought he was superb today. He’s been training really well in the last week or so, he was back to normal, he looked really committed in training, really hungry.
“I think today he had a great performance, not only for the goals but for the way he worked without the ball as well. The amount of pressure he put on every Leeds defender and he set the tone for the team. I’m delighted for him, he deserves it.
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Pressed whether he would be using Aubameyang through the middle more often, Arteta replied: “We have the option.
“Depending on the game, on the opponent, depending on the areas we want to exploit and how we want to make the game easier for him.
“I thought that it could be a good option for him today and it worked well.”