Arsenal – Leeds: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang broke out of his slump in a big way, bagging a hat trick in Arsenal’s 4-2 win over Leeds at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Arsenal scored the first four goals through Aubameyang’s three and one from Hector Bellerin, but Leeds struck in the 58th and 69th minute through Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa to set up an interesting finale.
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Arsenal moves above Leeds on the table, their 34 points good for 10th place. Leeds has 32 and sits 11th, having played one fewer match.
The Gunners are now two points behind Spurs, who’ve also played one fewer game, and six off fourth-place Liverpool.
Three things we learned from Arsenal – Leeds
1. Gunners out-Leeds Leeds (for a while): Pressing, moving into space, passing with vision. Arsenal had it all going with its front four of Emile Smith-Rowe, Martin Odegaard, and Bukayo Saka setting up a feast for the formerly-cold Aubameyang. Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos formed the steady base beneath them and Bellerin made the most of his license to go forward from right back.
2. Defense a real problem for Leeds: We’re totally okay if Leeds wants to keep going about their business as a wide open team with questions at the back — they’d love to have Diego Llorente and Kalvin Phillips back — but if they want to press on from mid-table to something bigger, they need to be harder to break down. This is fine for now given Leeds’ status as newly-promoted, so we’re not being harshly critical, but it’s just too easy to slice through the team. Leeds have been outscored 16-11 since New Year’s Day, going 3W-4L. That’s fun for us, not-so-much for Illan Meslier between the posts.
3. Arsenal’s ceiling raised with Aubameyang on song: He’s one of the most lethal finishers on earth and there’s no way he went from serial 20-goal scorer to nothing overnight. The hat trick saw two good goals and the penalty is worth one, too, and you wouldn’t bet against him cooking up the sort of hot streak that gets him to 20 again. And that’s the sort of thing — combined with a healthy Thomas Partey — that could shoot the Gunners up the Premier League table.
Man of the Match: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The 31-year-old Gabonese star upped his Premier League goal total to eight with his hat trick. His total was always going to rise given his previous league goal seasons of 22, 22, 23, 31, and 25 going back to his 2015-16 season with Borussia Dortmund.
Arsenal – Leeds recap
Aubameyang’s first goal came when Leeds’ Jamie Shackleton backed off the driving Gabonese star until he slotted inside the near post.
The second came off a penalty, and Bellerin got in on the act off a slicing run to meet Dani Ceballos’ incisive pass. It was 3-0 at half.
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Aubameyang completed his hat trick within three minute of halftime when a diving header of a bullet pass from Emile Smith-Rowe.
Leeds pulled back to within two goals with a pair before the 70th minute. First it was Struijk rising to nod Raphinha’s corner kick home, then halftime subs Tyler Roberts and Costa teaming up for one from open play.