LONDON: Leaving his skipper and most influential player out of the north London derby for disciplinary reasons could have backfired on Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta but the Spaniard's decision paid off as his side beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Sunday (Mar 14).
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was pencilled in to start the Premier League game but a late change saw the forward left on the bench with Arteta declining to elaborate on exact reasons, other than saying a line had been drawn and they had moved on.
Had Arsenal lost, fans would have accused Arteta of shooting himself in the foot, but his team responded to going behind to a stunning Erik Lamela goal to claim a first win in six against Spurs with Martin Odegaard and Alexander Lacazette scoring.
"I made what I thought was the right decision. We draw the line there," Arteta, who enjoyed his first win over Spurs as manager, told reporters. "We know how important Auba is for us, for the club and that's it.
"It's been dealt with and we move on."
Gabon striker Aubameyang, Arsenal's top scorer this season with 14 goals, was an unused substitute and Arteta's principled stance displayed the standards he expects from his squad.
"For me it's the foundations and the platform that we can build something medium and long term that is sustainable and that can bring us joy and happiness," Arteta said.
"Without that I don't believe it will happen so that's why I keep talking about it and acting on it.
"We have a way of living together. We have to respect each other. But (Aubameyang's) an incredible guy."
Arteta described Lamela's 'Rabona' goal as an "incredible unique piece of talent" but was delighted with the way his side recovered from going behind against the run of play.
"I love the way the team reacted, with the courage that they continued to play, the belief that I was sensing from the touchlines. I'm glad with that," he said.
Only after Lamela was sent off for a second yellow card in the 76th minute did Arsenal begin to look nervous, with Tottenham going close to an equaliser when Harry Kane had an effort disallowed and then hit the post with a free kick.
"We managed those 10 minutes really, really badly. We put ourselves in trouble and we gave them hope when after that we should just give passes in the opponents' half and attack in the right moment. It's a big lesson," said Arteta.
"It's great to get those lessons when you are winning."