Paul Merson hammers ‘joke’ Mikel Arteta decision despite Brighton win
Paul Merson has blasted Mikel Arteta's decision to recall Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into the Arsenal XI that beat Brighton.
Aubameyang had missed the Gunners’ last three fixtures, including the impressive 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Alexandre Lacazette deputised for the club captain against Chelsea, but was relegated back to the bench for the trip to The AMEX.
Arteta revealed his decision to place Lacazette on the bench was in order to give his side enough attacking options throughout the game.
“He finished the game against Chelsea with some pain,” Arteta said on Lacazette.
“We had the opportunity to refresh that and use him as well in some other moments. We didn’t know if Auba could last for 90 minutes.
“We knew that Gabi wasn’t gonna last for 90 minutes for sure. So, we had a substitution there and someone with a goal threat that we believed was going to be needed.”
Lacazette would come off the bench to score the winner, but Merson believes the Arsenal boss missed a real chance to send a message to his players.
“That would have been a massive statement tonight,” Merson told Sky Sports.. “If I am the manager, and it doesn’t seem to be all going well there at Arsenal with results recently. What a statement, pick that team, Aubameyang wasn’t ready, they win the game and you are sub.
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“All the players then start going ‘woah, I like this’. This is the problem. You start losing the players. Lacazette is thinking ‘wait there a minute, Aubameyang is getting another chance’. I know he is a good player but everyone has a dip in form.
“And it [would have been] a statement – but, at the moment, if I am a player and I am in the dressing room everyone will be going ‘Oh, this is a joke’. And that’s the way it goes.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s all on form. I just thought it’s a bad decision this.”
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