Mikel Arteta admitted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been left emotionally drained after caring for his ill mother - but revealed that the Arsenal squad have rallied around to support their captain.
Aubameyang travelled to France to take care of his mother - who had been suffering from health issues - and missed the Gunners' FA Cup defeat to Southampton and Premier League clashes with the Saints and Manchester United.
He returned to the squad for Arsenal's defeat to Wolves, coming off the bench for the final half an hour, and is in contention to return to the starting XI for the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.
"It's been tough because when you see a member of your family suffering and going through a difficult period, it drains you emotionally and you have to be close to them," Arteta said (via the Daily Mail).
"It was difficult. He wants to be here, he wants to be training, he doesn't want to miss football matches...he wants to play every minute of every single competition.
"So he was having the responsibility to be with his family but at the same time he wanted to be here. He was training on his own and I think he's managed that really well."
Members of the Arsenal squad and Gunners fans offered messages of support for Aubameyang on social media, and Arteta says this is a testament to the team's cohesiveness and the forward's popularity at the club.
“It shows the spirit around the dressing-room and how much we care for each other," the Arsenal boss added. "When things are difficult and you are away from that place you think ‘are they thinking of me? Are they supporting me?’ And the answer is a big ‘yes.’
“He’s a player that is very much liked and respected because of his character and for what he’s done at the club. He totally deserved that support."