Aubameyang's early return from Gabon duty was 'NOT pre-planned'

Mikel Arteta refuses to reveal if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey are fit for Arsenal’s huge clash with Liverpool, as he calls on his stars to raise their game ’emotionally, physically, technically and tactically’

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to the Emirates early from Gabon duty
  • The Arsenal striker was taken off on a stretcher at the end of Gabon’s last match
  • He trained on Wednesday but Mikel Arteta has not confirmed if he will play
  • Thomas Partey skipped international duty with Ghana to work on his fitness 
  • Arteta has warned his players that they must be at their best to beat Liverpool 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remained coy on whether key pair Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey will be fit for Saturday’s trip to Liverpool.

Aubameyang missed Gabon’s clash with Egypt on Tuesday, having been carried off on a stretcher earlier in the international break.

He has since returned to training but Arteta would not confirm whether he will make the trip to Anfield as expected.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has handed Arsenal an injury scare by returning to London early

‘We have to assess him and see how he is, and make decisions,’ the Gunners boss said on Friday.

‘We have a lot of players, they have been through some different games, issues, little injuries. Today we have to test everybody and see how we are to play tomorrow. Let’s see how everybody is. We have to see them today before assessing and making a judgement on how everybody is.’

Partey, meanwhile, picked up a groin injury ahead of their last Premier League outing against Watford.

Arsenal are sweating on the fitness of Thomas Partey (R) ahead of Saturday’s trip to Liverpool

The midfielder skipped international duty with Ghana, preferring to remain in north London to work on his fitness.

But Arteta was tight-lipped on his prospects. He said: ‘Same again. He could not play for the national team. 

‘He really tried to do that because obviously they had a massive game and he really pushed for that one. But he wasn’t close enough to do that. And again, it is something that we have to assess today because until today he hasn’t done enough.’

Arsenal will definitely be without Sead Kolasinac as they look to extend an eight-match unbeaten run – the longest of any side in the Premier League.

But they have not won at Anfield in the League since 2012.

Sead Kolasinac (centre) limped off during Bosnia & Herzegovina’s qualifier clash with Finland

‘It is always a test. It’s a fascinating stadium to play football. You have to be at your best,’ Arteta said.

‘You have to raise the level to your maximum standards – emotionally, physically, technically, tactically – because if you don’t, you will get exposed.

‘To go to Anfield is always a test but, again, if you are able to do that as well there are not many grounds as good as that to feel that you are a proper footballer.

‘First of all you have to believe that you can go there and beat them. If somebody is not with that mindset, they should not put the shirt on and go to Anfield tomorrow. 

‘Then, as I said, you have to raise individually your game to your best – emotionally, physically, technically, tactically. 

‘You have to be able to suffer in the right moments, because there are going to be moments that you are going to have to do that. Then, as a team, you have to have very clear ideas of what you have to do on that pitch to be that side.

‘Yes, for the reasons what I said and what I see, and because if not, there is no point travelling. You always have to find the reasons to believe that your team can go there and beat them.’




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