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Take over goals role from Auba, Arsenal stars told

Boss Arteta’s message after striker’s controversial suspension as Gunners prepare to host Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium

16 January, 2020 — By Steve Barnett

Pierre-Emerick Aubame­yang was sent off in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace for a high challenge

ARSENAL boss Mikel Arteta has called on his players to step up and score goals in the absence of the club’s “most important player”, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubame­yang.

The Gunners skipper starts a three-game ban this Saturday when the north Londoners host Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium after being sent off in the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace for a high challenge on Max Meyer.

Arsenal’s appeal against the red card was unsuccessful this week, meaning Aubameyang, who is the club’s top scorer in all competitions this season with 16 goals, will also miss the league game away to Chelsea and the FA Cup fourth-round tie away at Bournemouth.

Asked whether the onus was now on Aubameyang’s teammates to stand up and be counted, Arteta said: “They have to make a step forward now he is not able to contribute to the team with goals.

“Someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too.

“It’s a big shame and a big loss for us, because we know Auba’s intention when he plays.

“But unfortunately he mistimed the tackle, he made a decision and we have to accept it.”

Arteta will now look to Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson to the score the Gunners’ goals.

“Losing probably the most important player is never nice,” added the Spaniard.

“We have other players that can play in that position. We will try to find a way and be as competitive as possible.

“It’s time to talk on the pitch, not outside. You come on, you make the impact that he made and you show me that you are as good as him or even better. You have the chance.”

Ahead of the Blades’ visit, Arteta revealed he was hopeful that both Sead Kolasinac and Lucas Torreira would be available after picking up “niggling injuries”, but added that the decision over whether to play them wouldn’t be made until the last minute.

“The doctors are assessing Sead still – he had a normal training session yesterday.

“He’s been in some discomfort, we know this season that he had some little niggles, so we have to assess him and see if we can get him fit for Saturday.

“It is something related to his hip, producing some pain in the muscle.

“He is a tough boy, he wants to train, he wants to play and hopefully he will be available on Saturday.

“It’s a very similar situation with Lucas. He trained yesterday as well, but still not 100 per cent confident, so we will have to wait and see.”

Hector Bellerin is also back in training following a hamstring injury, but is unlikely to be risked against United.

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