Africa Cup of Nations: Aubameyang and Barty on opposite sides of Arsenal careers as they prepare for Gabon against Ghana

Arsenal are largely credited with spending on summer transfers well past the summer transfer window, not least because they have helped build – and in some cases strengthen – the backbone of Mikel Arteta’s side.

The likes of Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale have been signed to provide stability behind Arsenal’s top two currencies – before last summer – over the past few years at Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

There is no doubt that both were affected by their performances in 2020-21, with midfielder Barty battling injuries and later improving in his first season in the Premier League following his £45m move from Atletico Madrid.

Thomas Partey (left) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (right) meet in the Africa Cup of Nations on Friday

Meanwhile, striker Aubameyang suffered his worst year in front of goal since the 2010-11 season at Saint-Etienne, scoring just 15 goals in all competitions last season.

However, with the season waning to an unsatisfactory result, fans can only hope that Barty, 28, will start this season, while Aubameyang, 32, will rediscover the form that has made him one of Europe’s deadliest teams for For the majority of players. last decade.

But 2021-22 will be remembered as the season in which their Arsenal careers diverged, with one heading on an upward path and becoming a key experienced member of the squad, while the other is now best advised to head to the exit door sooner. It is possible that he was stripped of the captain.

Aubameyang’s third disciplinary breach under Arteta and the subsequent exclusion from first-team matters meant he and Barty haven’t been on the same field together since Arsenal’s defeat to Everton in early December.

Their Arsenal careers run to opposite ends as they prepare to face each other as opponents

Their Arsenal careers run to opposite ends as they prepare to face each other as opponents

However, this round will end – provided Aubameyang has not had a problem since returning to training from Covid – when they are on opposite sides of Gabon’s clash with Ghana in the two teams’ second game in Group C at the Africa Cup of Nations today.

Aubameyang’s positive Covid test resulted in them missing Gabon, who scored a narrow 1-0 win over newcomers in the tournament on Monday, a result that sees them currently top of the group.

Meanwhile, Barty’s Ghana suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Morocco, a match in which they struggled to exert dominance in midfield, perhaps in part due to the Black Stars’ struggles in attack, which saw them score only three times. Goals in the last five games.

This last confrontation in the capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé, may not be a struggle of death or death for both sides. This confrontation may be if the first two teams from each group qualify for the round of 16, especially with the possibility of Morocco winning over Comoros.

Alternatively, just as at Euro 2020, the four highest-ranked teams that are in third place will also qualify. But it will give both teams – if they finish as one of the four third-placed teams – another opportunity to rise and improve if and when they face a team that has finished top of their group in the playoffs.

Moreover, on an individual level, this will allow Barty to build on the confidence he has gained in Arsenal recently, while Aubameyang could be quite content with reminding everyone of his remarkable prowess and trying to convince the clubs to make a move for him in this. Monthly transfer period.

Barty struggled in Ghana's opening Group C loss to Morocco on Monday

Barty struggled in Ghana’s opening Group C loss to Morocco on Monday

The Ghanaian midfielder gave a harsh review in December of his 15-month spell in north London, and even admitted he hasn’t adapted to all areas of English football yet.

When asked to give himself a mark out of 10, Barty replied: “Personally, I’d say five or six. But with the (fans) tags too, I’ll give myself a four.

“Because there are moments in the game where I can really hurt the other team, but there are also moments where, because I’m not yet adapted to the Premier League, maybe I lose a little bit of focus and that’s when everything collapses.”

This loss of focus was perhaps evident in the game leading up to the match, the 3-2 defeat to Manchester United where he was guilty of giving up possession cheaply, especially in the first half. But his assessment came with a vow.

I have to about the game. Now I have a lot of games going on, it’s normal for me to struggle with some games, or some moments in games. With more matches, and with more confidence, I will be able to get to where I want to be.”

And after more shaky performances against Everton and Southampton, very recent performances suggest he is not far from that target.

But he showed - especially against Man City - how much he is in midfield

But he showed – especially against Man City – how much he is in midfield

Norwich away on Boxing Day gave him a much-needed confidence boost, cutting well and passing the ball effectively alongside Granit Xhaka. But his statement came six days later against the Premier League champions.

There were nearly 10 minutes into the first half of Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Arsenal on New Years Day as Pep Guardiola’s men simply couldn’t keep control and were instead on the other end of Arsenal’s attacks.

Arguably their primary opponent – apart from Bukayo Saka – was Barty, who was not only a real force in front of his defense to break City’s play, but also played as a man with the opposite direction to start Arsenal’s attacks.

Arsenal certainly missed out on the FA Cup lost to Nottingham Forest and those who were not convinced the Ghanaian would start facing the Emirates and become one of the captains of the squad, if not already, are now limited.

On the other hand, few believe that Aubameyang can really return to competition at Arsenal after forcibly removing the captain from his hands and without setting a date for a potential return from the cold under Arteta.

Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captain and frozen at the club

Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captain and frozen at the club

The former Borussia Dortmund striker had been struggling for goals before his disciplinary breach, failing to score in any of his last six league matches.

There is a fairly compelling argument that Arsenal’s attack has more structure, fluidity and speed about it when Alexandre Lacazette is at its heart rather than Aubameyang.

There has always been a fear throughout Aubameyang’s career that without his pace – and especially now without regularly scoring goals – there is not much he can give either side.

Mikel Arteta seemed to disagree with that before his disciplinary breach and continued to start it regularly ahead of the likes of Lacazette.

He was seen celebrating before contracting Covid, thus missing the opening match in Gabon

He was seen celebrating before contracting Covid, thus missing the opening match in Gabon

The Frenchman has never quite reached the highest scoring levels that Aubameyang has at Arsenal, but he undoubtedly excels when it comes to hooking play and bringing exciting talents like Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka into the game.

But Arsenal’s action off the field also appears to indicate that they have overtaken Aubameyang. Arsenal are intent on acquiring £58m Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic this month despite what appear to be astronomical wage demands, while Sportsmail Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin also understands that he has fans at the Emirates Stadium.

England’s top scorer is unlikely to leave Goodison Park this month and his summer target will be even more, but if Arsenal can defeat Serbian Vlahovic this month, it will only speed up Aubameyang’s case for a move to himself.

With no chances close to Arsenal, he could only put himself in the shop window by performing at the Africa Cup of Nations with Gabon.

He’s no surprise the Panthers’ record goalscorer with 26 goals in 65 games and despite being stripped of the Arsenal captaincy, he retains his country’s armband. But a positive Covid test did not provide the best start to the African Nations Cup.

But the striker confirmed through his account on Instagram that he returned to training before Friday's match

But the striker confirmed through his account on Instagram that he returned to training before Friday’s match

The source of the outbreak that saw Aubameyang contract the virus is unclear, but footage emerged on social media of players – including the striker – socializing at their pre-tournament camp in Dubai.

But his subsequent absence against Comoros will be only a marginal note with the victory at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, as he is almost certain of his place in the playoffs.

Gabon has lost in its last two matches against Ghana, with the Panthers last defeating just over a decade ago when they lost 2-1 in a friendly match in November 2011.

So Friday would be an ideal time for Aubameyang to end Gabon’s winless run into 2008 against the Black Stars and possibly help revive the club’s stalled run by attracting the attention of a potential suitor.

For Barty, it’s an opportunity to build on the success of the past month or so and help Ghana respond to Monday’s defeat and get them back on track as they try to end their hood at the Africa Cup of Nations by leading their midfield as he briefly demonstrated his ability at Arsenal. .

Aubameyang can put himself in the shop window by leading Gabon to victory over Ghana

Aubameyang can put himself in the shop window by leading Gabon to victory over Ghana

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