Arsenal were boosted by the return of skipper Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to action in the Premier League win away to Newcastle as he scored in the game.
His performance has given Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta some food for thought ahead of the Europa League semifinals second leg clash against Villareal at the Emirates on Thursday. Regardless, his return is a major positive for the London-based club.
It can be recalled that Aubameyang played just 5 minutes as a substitute in the first leg defeat to Villareal after recovering from Malaria. However, he got 77 minutes of action against Newcastle United and found the back of the net in the 2 nil win.
When Arteta was asked if the Gabonese had played his way into contention for the second leg against Villareal, being managed by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, he said:
“We thought he wasn’t going to manage that. On Thursday, the day before, he was really struggling, to be fair, he could only manage to play 10 or 15 minutes.
“But the day after and the day after, he started to feel better and it’s good to see that he was fine today. He performed well and he scored a goal, so it’s a real boost.”
Arteta was excited by his skipper’s return but was saddened to see David Luiz limp off against Newcastle at St James’ Park with a hamstring problem.
Arteta said: “He felt something in his hamstring, so it’s not good news. He’s put in such a shift to be back with the team for the last few weeks after the knee surgery and it’s a real shame.”
His absence would be a further blow for the side considering that the likes of Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette are yet to train due to knee and hamstring injuries that could keep them out of action on Thursday.
Regardless, he consoled himself with his side’s commanding display as they got their 17th win in 18 games against Newcastle United in all competitions.
Arteta said: “Apart from David’s injury, that’s all we wanted. We wanted to keep the team fresh, players with the right attitude to play this game, and being able to focus just on today.
“We had a really strong performance from the beginning. We dominated the game and we got the three points which we needed. It helps for Thursday as well.”