Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang revelled in his stunning return to Arsenal’s starting line-up after his hat-trick propelled the Gunners to a 4-2 win over Leeds United.
Aubameyang put Arsenal 2-0 up by the 41st minute of Sunday’s clash, opening the scoring early on before doubling his tally with a penalty.
The spot-kick marked his 200th goal across Europe’s top five leagues, with the 31-year-old then completing his first Premier League hat-trick two minutes after the restart.
That goal, which came after Hector Bellerin had rounded off a neat team move, put Arsenal 4-0 up, though Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa made life uncomfortable in the second half.
Aubameyang had not started a league match since January 18, with the Gabon striker having been handed a leave of absence to help care for his ill mother.
He was quick to hail the support he received from Arsenal, both internally and from the fanbase.
“Happy, really happy, and my kids are going to be happy because they’re going to get it [the match ball],” Aubameyang told Sky Sports.
“Really happy with the performance from the team today, we knew that it was going to be a hard game, they never gave up, they fought a lot, in the end I think we had good game management.
“Maybe a bit nervy [at 4-2] but we managed it well in the end, we won the game. It was important to show that this is our home, this is where we have to win games.
“It means a lot to me. I’m a guy who always works hard, tries to give the best, for first my family and then the team as well. It’s been a tough time for me but now it’s time to get the smile back, score goals and win games.
3 – Since the start of the 2009-10 season, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of only three players to score a hat-trick in three of the top five European leagues, along with Alexis Sánchez and Salomon Kalou. Continental. pic.twitter.com/5KV8aNYcRP
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 14, 2021
“From everybody around the club, everyone was giving a lot of love to me, my mum and my family – I’m really proud to be part of this family, I have to say thank you to everyone at the club and the fans as well because I received a lot of messages.
“Today’s win and the goals are for them.”
Mikel Arteta was delighted with the all-round discipline and intensity shown by his side – factors he believes are the only way to match up to Marcelo Bielsa’s free-flowing team, who have now conceded 42 goals but also scored 40 in the league.
“Very pleased with the result, very happy with the performance, especially in the first half against a fantastic team that make life so difficult for you and really put high demands into every action, with or without the ball,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We read the situations really well and created big problems for them. I said to the players at half-time that Leeds will never give up, they throw everything at you and that’s what they’ve done. We scored the fourth goal, could have scored more but they made it hard.
“Every action, you have to be full gas. If you don’t take the game like that you are in big trouble. You have to be very precise to find the next pass, the next movement.
“It was great, the amount of chances we created and the types of goals we scored, I am really pleased with that.”