LONDON, United Kingdom, Jan 14 – Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has laid down the challenge for his forwards to pick up the slack in the absence of skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese forward received a red card for violent conduct during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
It means Aubameyang, who has 16 goals in all competitions this season, will miss the club’s next three games, which includes a trip to Chelsea later this month.
Record signing Nicolas Pepe has found the net five times this term while Alexandre Lacazette has six goals to his name, but not struck for the Gunners since December 12.
“They have to make a step forward now. If he (Aubameyang) is not able to contribute to the team with goals like this, then someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too,” Arteta said.
“Probably the most important player is missing so it is not nice, but we have other players who can play in that position and we will find a way and be as competitive as possible.”
Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli is Arsenal’s second top goalscorer this season with a tally of eight, although the majority of them have occurred in cup competitions.
It was put to Arteta that one possible solution could be to hand Eddie Nketiah a chance up top after he returned early from his loan spell at Leeds.
He insisted: “At the moment we have to think mid-to-long term with Eddie. We have to respect his evolution and development and we don’t have to make a decision just based on two or three games.”