Aubameyang takes the match ball in sixth goal thriller at the Emirates
Arsenal net four at home for first time this season against plucky Leeds
14 February, 2021 — By Tom Foot
The Arsenal captain is back with a bang
FA Premie League
ARSENAL 4 (Aubameyang 13, 41 pen, 47, Bellerin 45)
LEEDS 2 (Struijk 58, Costa 69)
PIERRE Emerick Aubameyang is back in the goals as he grabbed his first ever Premier League hat-trick against Leeds United.
The Gunners netted four league goals at home for the first time this season stunning the free-playing visitors with a decisive first half display.
Goalkeeper Illan Meslier was beaten at his near post twice and gave away a penalty recklessly, but the 3-0 half time scoreline was no more than the home side deserved.
Youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka shone once again, with the pair keeping Pepe and Willian on the bench.
After the match, manager Mikel Arteta said: “I think we’re much more efficient and more composed. We took our time when it was needed. Our decision making was much better.”
Arteta has started Martin Odegaard in the number 10 role, between Saka and Smith Rowe with Aubameyang up front. The Madrid starlet had a tidy game with some neat passes, but there were no flashes of genius to get the pulses racing.
Of the new signing from Madrid, Arteta said: “Big credit to him to play first Premier League start against Leeds after not playing much football in the last three months.
“To run the way he did how comfortable and creative he was on the ball and the personality he showed on the game it was great.”
Rob Holding was dropped for Gabriel who played alongside David Luiz in the central pairing. Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos mopped up in midfield and looked in control throughout.
Leeds danger-man Patrick Bamford tested Bernd Leno on 11 mins but barely registered a shot for the rest of the match.
Aubameyang’s first goal was fired after a purposeful run, put in with a through ball from Xhaka.
Jack Harrison clubbed a shot at Leno on 25, before Luiz was allowed to go on a 60 yard run that infuriated the squatting Marcelo Bielsa. The chaotic defender cut back perfectly to Aubameyang whose shot was blocked.
Referee Stuart Atwell gave a penalty for a clumsy foul on Saka but he was summoned to the VAR screen, where replays showed contact was minimal.
It had looked cast iron in real time, but one Leeds defender had shouted out “no ****ing chance”.
Without fans in the stadium, the managers and the players are clearly audible from the press box. Arteta was constantly shouting at “Daveed, Daveeed!” at Luiz while Bielsa was roaring “again, again!” after any good build up play.
There was a lot of swearing, particularly from Leeds centre back Stuart Dallas – including one foul-mouthed blast against his own striker Bamford near the end of the game.
Minutes after the Saka penalty was ruled out, Meslier clattered the young midfielder in the box from behind, having mistimed controlling a back pass
It was another moment of madness from a Premieleague goalkeeper, and this time no nitpicking from VAR was going to overturn the referee’s decision.
Aubameyang dispatched expertly into the side netting on 40 mins.
Saka was allowed to dribble through the Leeds box, linking up with Smith Rowe, before Bellerin was put through with time to control and fire in low. Again Meslier was beaten again too easily at his near post.
Aubameyang nodded in his hat trick, diving onto a perfect pass from Smith Rowe on 47 minutes.
Pascal Struijk got one back with a crunching header, leaping ahead of Luiz who should have been stronger to clear.
Helder Costa scored after more good pressure from visitors leaving a nervy last 20 minutes to match.
Aubameyang crashed the top corner of the sticks on 76 minutes and the Gunners ended up seeing out the win.
Arsenal lie tenth but face a series of tough fixtures including Manchester City, Leicester and Liverpool in the coming weeks.
Arsenal: Leno, Soares, Gabriel, Luiz, Xhaka, Ceballos (Holding 89), Smith-Rowe (Willian 62), Saka, Odegaard (Elneny 78), Aubameyang.
Substitues not used: Pepe, Chambers, Ryan, Martinelli, Mari
Leeds: Meslier, Shackleton, Ayling, Cooper, (Huggins 53), Struijk, Raphinha, Dallas, Klich, Roberts, Harrison (Helder 45), Bamford.
Substitues not used: Casilla, Hernandez, Davis, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Jenkins,