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Mikel Arteta unsure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s return for Arsenal


Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is uncertain whether captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be available to face Southampton on Tuesday, after the Gabon striker missed Saturday’s trip to St. Mary’s for personal reasons.

The 31-year-old had traveled with his teammates for the FA Cup clash this weekend but was sent home on Saturday morning. The Gunners sensed his absence, failing to defend their trophy in a 1-0 loss to their hosts on the South Coast.

Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang could miss again for personal reasons | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Arsenal host Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night – this time as part of his Premier League duties – but manager Arteta could be forced to do without captain Aubameyang once again.

And the Spaniard admitted he “doesn’t know” when Aubameyang will return, leaving question marks over his return date for the north London side.

“He’s had a personal affair the last few hours, we had to fire him,” Arteta said.

“I don’t know (when Aubameyang comes back). He needs to tackle this problem, we’ll see how that evolves.

Mikel Arteta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang and Arteta celebrate their cup triumph | Marc Atkins / Getty Images

“We are here and we have to support him and he has to take the necessary time because it is a priority at the moment.

Aubameyang’s absence will be a blow to Arteta, after his striker returned to form at the right time, helping Arsenal turn a corner after a miserable few weeks at Emirates Stadium. The captain scored a brace in his last outing against Newcastle United, and his improvements have seen the Gunners return to the top half of the Premier League.

The Gunners will desperately want their talisman to return to the fold in the week leading up to their huge clash with Manchester United on Saturday night.

It was clear the team suffered without Aubameyang on Saturday, losing 1-0 to a resolute Southampton, falling in the fourth round of their FA Cup defense.