Arsenal are set to make a short trip across town to take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the reverse fixture of that infamous 2-2 draw at the Emirates earlier this season.
If you remember, the Gunners were two goals to the good within 10 minutes, courtesy of the centre-back duo of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz, only for Palace captain Luka Milivojevic to cut the lead in half with just over half an hour gone and Jordan Ayew to equalize in the 52nd minute. With seven minutes to go, VAR denied Sokratis what would probably have been the winner due to an alleged foul in the buildup. The result was surely underwhelming, but an even worse feeling of disappointment was created by captain Granit Xhaka as he walked off the pitch to replaced and directed some unwise words towards the home supporters in response to the boos and whistles at his expense. As you know, the moment eventually led to the Swiss international losing the armband.
Speaking ahead of the game on Saturday, manager Mikel Arteta was asked about the situation surrounding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The boss first said he had been very pleased to read the forward’s comments in a previous matchday program, where he expressed a strong commitment to the club despite all the rumours linking him with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid recently. Aubameyang is a ‘massive player’ for this team, and Arteta wants him at the club for as long as possible. However, he also said that a new contract for the 30-year-old Gabonese hadn’t been discussed yet. At the moment the focus is on the present.
As for the currently ongoing transfer window, Arteta isn’t expecting any big things to happen. On the other hand, he says the club are mindful of any potential openings in the market that would possibly strengthen the team, especially with injuries keeping players out for a long time.
Finally, the Spaniard was asked about his plans for Emile Smith-Rowe. The young midfielder has been linked with a loan move to Huddersfield Town, and Arteta said there were actually three players whose potential departures on loan were being carefully considered.