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Arsenal 4-2 Leeds: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanks Gunners after hat-trick

By Josef RindlBBC Sport
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had scored just five goals in the Premier League season coming into this fixture

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanked Arsenal for helping him through a "tough period" after his hat-trick led the Gunners to a convincing win over Leeds at Emirates Stadium.

The 31-year-old missed two matches at the end of January with his mother in ill health.

"Everyone was giving a lot of love to me, my mum and my family," the Arsenal skipper told Sky Sports.

"I have to say thank you to everyone at the club, and the fans."

Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 14th minute before doubling his side's advantage from the spot towards the end of the first half.

Right-back Hector Bellerin grabbed a third on the stroke of half-time, with Aubameyang completing his first Premier League hat-trick with a header moments after the restart.

But from 4-0 down Leeds grabbed two second-half goals through Pascal Struijk and substitute Helder Costa to give Arsenal a late scare.

'The hat-trick means a lot'

Making his first start in almost a month, Arsenal skipper Aubameyang proved just how valuable he is to the north London club.

Since he was last named in a starting XI, the Gunners had gone out of the FA Cup and taken four points from four games in the league.

"The hat-trick means a lot to me," added the forward.

"I'm a guy who always works hard. It's been a tough time for me."

Right from the off the Gabon international looked lively, cutting in from the left and finding the bottom corner with a cultured finish in the opening quarter.

And he was denied a second moments later when Leeds defender Luke Ayling superbly blocked his shot after good work from David Luiz.

VAR intervention led to referee Stuart Atwell overturning an Arsenal penalty after Bukayo Saka was brought down by Liam Cooper in the 35th minute.

But the 19-year-old won another spot-kick minutes later, being tripped by Leeds keeper Illan Meslier after the stopper was unable to clear a routine backpass.

Aubameyang made no mistake from 12 yards - sending Meslier the wrong way - before Bellerin caught out the Frenchman at his near post to net Arsenal's third.

We've missed Aubameyang's goals - Arteta

Arsenal started the second half just as they finished the first, with Aubameyang heading home Emile Smith Rowe's cross to net his second ever Arsenal hat-trick - his first since the Gunners beat Valencia 4-2 in the Europa League in May 2019.

And Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was quick to praise his captain at full-time, remarking that the forward is "key" to Arsenal's success.

"We have been missing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goals and him at his best," said Arteta.

"He has been training after a difficult period with a family issue and we had a feeling he could be key in this game.

"We know that a big part of our future success is related to Auba being at his best and scoring as many goals as possible.

"If he is in that type of form we are going to be closer to winning football matches, that is for sure - we cannot just rely on him but he is a big piece of our puzzle and you saw today that when he is firing he is a difficult player to play against."

Arsenal celebrate victory
Arsenal jump up to 10th in the Premier League table, leapfrogging Leeds

'Arsenal prepared better' - Bielsa

Despite a disastrous first 47 minutes, at one point in the second period Leeds looked destined to leave London with a point.

Struijk's thumping header from a Raphinha corner just before the hour-mark and Costa's close-range finish 11 minutes later halved the deficit, with the Yorkshire side's first two real chances of the game.

At 4-2 Patrick Bamford went down in the area under pressure from multiple Arsenal defenders with 15 minutes remaining, only for play to be waved on.

But, after a few nervous minutes, it was Arsenal who always looked the likelier to grab the game's seventh goal, with Aubameyang nearly grabbing a fourth, curling the ball against the crossbar, and Saka striking the post in the closing stages.

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa, routinely praised for his team's approach this season, admitted he got his tactics wrong.

"We couldn't pressure their build-up and we could not avoid their pressure when we were trying to build from the back," he told BBC Sport.

"You could see it clearly, the opposing manager prepared the game better than I did.

"We did not manage to bring the ball from our half to their half."

Without star midfielder Kalvin Phillips the visitors struggled to get on the ball, and have now conceded four goals or more for the fifth time since gaining promotion to the Premier League.

For all their attacking flair Leeds remain leaky at the back, with strugglers West Brom the only side to have conceded more goals in the league this season.

The result means Arsenal leapfrog Leeds to go 10th in the table, six points off the top four.

Arteta prepared his team better - Bielsa on Leeds defeat

Leeds' London woes - the stats

  • Arsenal scored four (or more) goals at the Emirates for the first time in the Premier League this season, having last done so in a 4-0 win over Norwich in July of last season.
  • Leeds have won just one of their last 24 away league games in London (D6 L17), losing all four such matches this season by an aggregate 14-4 score.
  • Leeds remain without a win in nine meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (D2 L7), since a 3-2 victory in the Premier League at Highbury in May 2003.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 199th, 200th and 201st goals in Europe's big-five leagues in what was his 369th appearance. He is one of just nine players to score 200+ goals across the five divisions.
  • Aubameyang was the third player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick on Valentine's Day, after Matt le Tissier vs Liverpool in 1994 and Michael Owen vs Sheffield Wednesday in 1998.

What's next?

Arsenal face Benfica in Athens in the Europa League on Thursday (20:00) while Leeds are in Premier League action, travelling to Wolves on Friday (20:00 GMT).

Player of the match

AubameyangPierre-Emerick Aubameyang

with an average of 8.06

Arsenal

  1. Squad number14Player nameAubameyang
    Average rating

    8.06

  2. Squad number7Player nameSaka
    Average rating

    7.92

  3. Squad number32Player nameSmith Rowe
    Average rating

    7.23

  4. Squad number11Player nameØdegaard
    Average rating

    6.89

  5. Squad number2Player nameBellerín
    Average rating

    6.75

  6. Squad number8Player nameDani Ceballos
    Average rating

    6.57

  7. Squad number6Player nameGabriel Magalhães
    Average rating

    6.55

  8. Squad number1Player nameLeno
    Average rating

    6.52

  9. Squad number34Player nameXhaka
    Average rating

    6.49

  10. Squad number17Player nameCédric Soares
    Average rating

    6.37

  11. Squad number23Player nameDavid Luiz
    Average rating

    6.17

  12. Squad number16Player nameHolding
    Average rating

    5.65

  13. Squad number25Player nameMohamed Elneny
    Average rating

    5.64

  14. Squad number12Player nameWillian
    Average rating

    4.09

Leeds United

  1. Squad number18Player nameRaphinha
    Average rating

    6.00

  2. Squad number17Player nameHélder Costa
    Average rating

    5.89

  3. Squad number52Player nameHuggins
    Average rating

    5.88

  4. Squad number11Player nameRoberts
    Average rating

    5.80

  5. Squad number21Player nameStruijk
    Average rating

    5.76

  6. Squad number9Player nameBamford
    Average rating

    5.67

  7. Squad number15Player nameDallas
    Average rating

    5.58

  8. Squad number2Player nameAyling
    Average rating

    5.26

  9. Squad number6Player nameCooper
    Average rating

    5.23

  10. Squad number22Player nameHarrison
    Average rating

    5.16

  11. Squad number46Player nameShackleton
    Average rating

    5.15

  12. Squad number43Player nameKlich
    Average rating

    5.07

  13. Squad number10Player nameAlioski
    Average rating

    4.68

  14. Squad number1Player nameMeslier
    Average rating

    3.92

Line-ups

Arsenal

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Leno
  • 2Bellerín
  • 23David Luiz
  • 6Gabriel
  • 17Cédric Soares
  • 8CeballosSubstituted forHoldingat 89'minutes
  • 34Xhaka
  • 7Saka
  • 11ØdegaardSubstituted forElnenyat 78'minutes
  • 32Smith RoweSubstituted forWillianat 62'minutes
  • 14Aubameyang

Substitutes

  • 9Lacazette
  • 12Willian
  • 16Holding
  • 19Pépé
  • 21Chambers
  • 22Marí
  • 25Elneny
  • 33Ryan
  • 35Martinelli

Leeds

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Meslier
  • 46Shackleton
  • 2Ayling
  • 6Cooper
  • 10AlioskiSubstituted forHugginsat 53'minutes
  • 21StruijkBooked at 70mins
  • 18Raphinha
  • 15DallasBooked at 90mins
  • 43KlichSubstituted forRobertsat 45'minutes
  • 22HarrisonSubstituted forHélder Costaat 45'minutes
  • 9Bamford

Substitutes

  • 11Roberts
  • 13Casilla
  • 17Hélder Costa
  • 19Hernández
  • 24Davis
  • 30Gelhardt
  • 35Cresswell
  • 47Jenkins
  • 52Huggins
Referee:
Stuart Attwell

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamLeeds
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home13
Away9
Shots on Target
Home5
Away5
Corners
Home4
Away5
Fouls
Home8
Away17

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Arsenal 4, Leeds United 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Arsenal 4, Leeds United 2.

  3. Booking

    Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Stuart Dallas (Leeds United).

  5. Post update

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Cédric Soares.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Rob Holding replaces Dani Ceballos.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Patrick Bamford (Leeds United).

  9. Post update

    Gabriel Magalhães (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Attempt saved. Cédric Soares (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

  11. Post update

    Offside, Arsenal. Willian tries a through ball, but Bukayo Saka is caught offside.

  12. Post update

    Luke Ayling (Leeds United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).

  14. Post update

    Foul by Tyler Roberts (Leeds United).

  15. Post update

    Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Martin Ødegaard.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Liam Cooper.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Héctor Bellerín.

  19. Post update

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.

  20. Post update

    Luke Ayling (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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