Aubameyang finding form just in time as Arsenal begin tough fortnight

The Gunners have four big games coming up, with both legs of their Europa League last-32 tie with Benfica and Premier League matches against Manchester City and Leicester City. There is still a lot of football left to play in this campaign but it feels like season-defining run

So often last season, Aubameyang was Arsenal’s talisman. Time and again, the captain would deliver when it mattered most and the fact he scored all of the Gunners’ goals in their FA Cup semi-final and final wins over Manchester City and Chelsea is the best example of that.

“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,” said Arteta. “If he is in that kind of form we’re going to be closer to winning football matches, that’s clear.”

It has not been an easy season for Aubameyang and the fact yesterday’s treble only took his goal tally to 11 says a lot about his form.

Arteta gave Aubameyang as much time as he needed while he was with his family. That patience has paid off and his hat-trick yesterday came on what was his first start since returning to the team.

His first goal was straight out of the Aubameyang playbook as he received the ball out left, shifted the ball to get a yard of space past Leeds defender Luke Ayling, before firing past Illan Meslier.

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“He is amazing. I can’t speak highly enough of him,” said Saka. “Today he showed everyone how much quality he has, when he gets a chance he is going to put it away.

“He can do everything, so we are so happy to have him and it’s good that he got a hat-trick for his confidence. We have a big week ahead and we hope he can score some more goals for us.”

Aubameyang’s second goal was a penalty, but his third will have given Arteta food for thought given it was a poacher’s finish and he was in the right place at the right time to head home Smith Rowe’s cross from three yards out.

Aubameyang thrived against Leeds as a central striker and the question now is whether Arsenal perserve with that, or shift him to the left to reintegrate Alexandre Lacazette for Benfica on Thursday?

Whatever Arteta decides to do, it is a nice headache for him to have because earlier this season the question was whether Aubameyang should be in the team at all.

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