Aubameyang’s Arsenal debut may be delayed by illness, says Arsène Wenger

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Arsène Wenger has revealed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may not be fit to make his Arsenal debut against Everton on Saturday as he struggles with a sickness bug.

The striker became the club’s record signing on the final day of the January transfer window when he completed a £56m move from Borussia Dortmund. But Wenger said that Aubameyang had not trained fully and, as such, was a doubt.

“He had sickness, a fever,” Wenger said. “He couldn’t train a lot – he started on Thursday. He was still not completely well so I have to assess and see with the medical department how well and how fit he can be.”

Wenger said that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would start against Everton, as the club attempt to bounce back from last Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea City, but he admitted that he could offer no assurances to the striker Alexandre Lacazette – in light of the signing of Aubameyang. Lacazette has scored nine times since his £52.7m arrival from Lyon last summer. When Aubameyang is fully fit, it will be interesting to see whether Wenger uses him and Lacazette in the same starting lineup.

“I don’t reassure people because I think we are in a competitive world,” Wenger said. “We have all chosen a job that is about competition and you have to fight for your place. You have to show them respect, and that you rate the players but as well they have to accept that we live in a competitive world.”

Wenger declared himself pleased with the club’s January business, although he lamented the failure to add a defender. A late move for Jonny Evans was rebuffed by West Bromwich Albion.

“Do I regret not getting a defender? Yes, because our defensive numbers are not good enough and that’s where we needed some possible strengthening,” Wenger said. “We have to improve our defensive numbers. Did I get everything I wanted in January? No. What I wanted to do, we have done. I couldn’t do everything. I wanted to do more. I believe we have to find an internal solution to our defensive problems.”

The former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song has returned to train with the club following his departure from Rubin Kazan, as he looks to maintain his fitness. Wenger said there was no possibility he would re-sign the 30-year-old.

Wenger said that he had not wanted to sell Olivier Giroud to a direct rival in Chelsea but the deal had become necessary to unlock the chain that led to Aubameyang’s arrival. Dortmund took Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea to replace Aubameyang. Giroud’s family situation meant that he did not want to leave London; he had been a target for Dortmund.

“Ideally, you want him to go to clubs who do not compete with you,” Wenger said. “On the other hand, it was linked with the Aubameyang deal. He wanted to stay [in London] because he’s just had a third baby. It was very difficult from the family side for him to leave London. We also owe Olivier a lot. His commitment, his dedication and love for the club was absolutely exceptional. It was difficult to turn it down just because it was an opponent.”

The Guardian
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