Mikel Arteta echoes players’ support for absent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Mikel Arteta dedicated Arsenal’s comeback win over Southampton to captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who is absent due to personal reasons.

The Gunners moved up to eighth in the Premier League table after a 3-1 victory at St Mary’s just three days after losing on the south coast in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Stuart Armstrong had smashed Southampton ahead with a fine early strike but the visitors would lead at the interval courtesy of goals from Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka.

Alexandre Lacazette would wrap up the points later on, seemingly sending a message of support to Aubameyang in the process.

The Gunners skipper was missing for both games against Saints having left the squad just hours before Saturday’s cup defeat.

Asked about Aubameyang’s situation, Arteta replied: “I loved how they support each other and how they protect each other. Auba is having a difficult time and we are all behind him. This win was for him.”

Although Arsenal have now won five of their last six league games, Arteta is still refusing to put a target on a season which has shown a massive upturn since a Boxing Day victory over Chelsea.

“I don’t want to look at the table,” he added.

“I want to look at ourselves, how we can get better, the reason we are playing better and winning football matches.

“Tomorrow is another day, train, improve in many areas and see where we get.”

For Southampton, the defeat means they have won just one of their last seven league games.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men were nowhere near the levels which saw them knock the holders out of the FA Cup on Saturday as his small squad struggles under the strain of a condensed fixture list.

He was unable to call on first-choice full-backs Ryan Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters due to suspension and injury, respectively, and admitted Saints need to have more players fit to be able to challenge the bigger sides.

“We still have 29 points, that is a good thing – the one win was against Liverpool – we know that we are a good team if everything is perfect and we are in a good shape. I’m sure we will play better next week,” he said.

“We are definitely running out of players at the moment, I hope a few are coming back but at the moment it is like it is, this situation is not nice but it is why we shouldn’t be too negative.

“We have 29 points, we knew such situations could come for us, if we have injuries it certainly hurts us more than the top teams.

“Everyone can look for themselves how much it affected the result today, we conceded two easy goals in the first half.

“The effort was good in the first half, the quality wasn’t good enough today to be competitive against this team.”

Asked if he would like to add another full-back before the transfer window closes on Monday, Hasenhuttl replied: “If we have the money and the chance to get one, yes I would like to do it.”