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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Bukayo Saka 9: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 9: Illan Meslier 3, Raphinha 6: Arsenal v Leeds player ratings

Brilliant hat-trick by Gunners captain as defensive frailties of Bielsa's side are brutally exposed again

Mikel Arteta heaped praise on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the striker returned to the Arsenal side to hit his first Premier League hat-trick and down Leeds United.

The Gunners captain had not started in five games after leaving the club's coronavirus-secure bubble to tend to his ill mother.

But he marked his comeback in fine fashion as Leeds were beaten 4-2 at the Emirates Stadium, having started the afternoon above their hosts in the table.

Hector Bellerin scored Arsenal's other goal while Pascal Struijk and substitute Helder Costa scored to give the scoreline a flattering look for the visitors.

"I thought he was superb today, he has been training really good the last week or so, he looked back to normal," Arteta said of Aubameyang.

"He looked really committed in training, really hungry and today he had a great performance, not only for the goals but the way he worked without the ball and the way he worked every Leeds defender, he set the tone.

"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."

Leeds slipped below Arsenal into 11th spot but their 23 games this season have resulted in 82 goals and for the neutral they remain arguably the best side to watch in the top flight.

Manager Marcelo Bielsa said they paid for a poor opening period. "In the first half we should have prevented them scoring three goals if we were more organised in possession," he said.

"In the second half we had chances to score the third which means the ending of the game could have been different."

Published: February 15, 2021 07:02 AM

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