RUTHLESS Mikel Arteta terrified the Arsenal dressing-room with the no-nonsense way he dumped dissenting captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January.
And as the table-topping Gunners prepare for a first reunion with Auba on Sunday, veteran long-serving midfielder Mo Elneny claims the strikerâs departure was the moment that Arteta completely established his authority.
Aubameyang, who signed for Chelsea in the summer after just six months at Barcelona, has already lit the touchpaper for Sundayâs explosive Stamford Bridge clash by declaring: âArsenal, nothing personal. Iâm back, Iâm blue, Iâm ready.â
But Egyptian international Elneny reckons Arteta has already proved himself the winner in his long-running battle with Aubameyang which culminated in the strikerâs contract being paid so he could join Barca as a free agent.
He says:Â âWhen Mikel took the captaincy from Auba, it was 100 percent the moment he established himself.
âAfter what he did to the captain of the team, everyone looked at themselves and asked ‘what is he going to do with the other players?’
âEveryone was scared about their position after what happened with Aubameyang. If a player who is not the captain makes a small mistake, he is going to have the same problem. And no-one needs that.
âThat showed us that we cannot play around, from now on we have to be calm and stick together as a team, not do something different.
âWe all agreed with what Mikel decided because he is our boss and we have to support his vision for the club.
âNow we donât allow big egos in the dressing-room. Everyone loves each other and works for each other.
âThat is what makes our squad really strong, because we donât have egos in the team.
âNow we have things to push for every day. We know we have a good team with good staff and Mikel makes us feel like we are really strong.
âAnd we all believe we can do something really special this season. Arsenal is a big club and we know we need to put them in the place they deserve. That is what we all play for.
âAubameyang was one of our players and he decided to go to a different team. Now we just focus on ourselves and look to win the game on Sunday.â
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