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