AFCON: Aubameyang and Partey are at different stages of their Arsenal careers as they prepare for Gabon’s match against Ghana.

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AFCON: Aubameyang and Partey are at different stages of their Arsenal careers as they prepare for Gabon’s match against Ghana.

Arsenal deserves a lot of credit for their record-breaking summer transfer window spending, not least because it helped build – and in some cases reinforce – Mikel Arteta’s team’s spine.

Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale were brought in to provide stability behind Arsenal’s two most significant acquisitions in recent years, Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Both players will undoubtedly be disappointed with their performances in 2020-21, with midfielder Partey suffering from injuries and poor form in his first season in the Premier League after joining for £45 million from Atletico Madrid.

Meanwhile, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had his worst season in front of goal since the 2010-11 season at Saint-Etienne, scoring only 15 goals in all competitions.

Fans could only hope that Partey, 28, would improve this season, while Aubameyang, 32, would reclaim the form that has made him one of Europe’s most lethal finishers for the past decade.

But 2021-22 will be remembered as the season when their Arsenal careers diverged, with one on the rise and on his way to becoming a key, experienced member of the squad, while the other, having been stripped of the captaincy, would be best advised to leave as soon as possible.

Because of Aubameyang’s third disciplinary breach under Arteta’s reign and subsequent exclusion from first-team matters, he has not played alongside Partey since Arsenal’s defeat at Everton in early December.

That run, however, will come to an end when they face each other in Gabon’s second Group C match against Ghana today, assuming Aubameyang has not suffered an injury since returning to training from Covid.

Gabon’s hard-earned 1-0 victory over tournament debutants Comoros on Monday was marred by Aubameyang’s positive Covid test, and the result keeps Gabon atop the group.

Meanwhile, Partey’s Ghana was defeated 1-0 by high-flying Morocco in a game in which he struggled to exert midfield dominance, possibly due to the Black Stars’ offensive woes, which have seen them score just three goals in their last five games.

This latest match in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital, may not be as crucial for either side as it might have been if only the top two teams from each group qualified for the last 16, especially with Morocco likely to qualify…

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