Arteta neither confirms nor denies Aubameyang left the country

Aubameyang Source: Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has offered no guarantee that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be available for Arsenal in Sunday's (AEDT) big clash with Manchester United.

The striker and club captain left the squad just hours ahead of last weekend's FA Cup match at Southampton, because of personal reasons.

Aubameyang specified on Wednesday that his mother had been experiencing "health issues" and stressed he "had to be with her".

He said he was keen to be back on Arsenal duty, but how soon that happens could hinge on a range of issues.

Arsenal manager Arteta did not give a firm answer one way or the other when asked whether Aubameyang had travelled abroad to be with his mother.

If he did head overseas, that could bring quarantining into the equation and mean he may have to wait a while before returning to action.

Looking at the weekend prospects for the Gabon international, Arteta said: "I don't know. I spoke with him yesterday, things are looking better at the moment, but we're going to have to wait and see.

"He's our captain and one of the most important players. We are doing everything we can to have him back as quick as possible but understand he's been through difficult days, that he has to support his family and we are here to support him as well with the time that he needed to get that sorted."

When asked if Aubameyang had left the UK to be with his mother, Arteta said: "He had to support his family and he had to be with them."

Pressed on the possibility of quarantine, he replied: "I don't know about what happened."

Arsenal lost in the cup to Southampton but took swift revenge by winning 3-1 in the Premier League at St Mary's on Tuesday, to continue their recent revival in the competition.

Arteta had dedicated that victory to Aubameyang on behalf of the squad and explained it was important to support the 31-year-old at all times.

"That's what we always talk about and what we expect to do for each other," said the Arsenal boss. "When someone is having difficulties, that we understand for him, protect him, give him our love, because it's what is needed."

Aubameyang scored twice in his last Premier League appearance, the 3-0 win over Newcastle United on January 18, after netting just three in his previous 16 games in the competition.

In the Newcastle game, Aubameyang matched his season's Premier League highs for shots at goal (five) and touches in the opposition box (nine).

Having also scored against Newcastle in the FA Cup third round earlier in January, it suggested his best form may be coming back.

Only once last season did Aubameyang have more goal attempts in a game (seven against Brighton and Hove Albion on June 20), while he only had more touches in Arsenal's rivals' box twice (in December 2019 games against Norwich City and Bournemouth).

Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari are expected back in training with Arsenal in the coming days after short injury lay-offs, Arteta said.

He said Arsenal would "have to see" how Kieran Tierney is, although video that appeared to show the left-back in training this week may suggest he could face United this weekend.

Source Omnisport