Arsenal 4 Leeds 2: Aubameyang scores scintillating hat-trick as Gunners leapfrog visitors into Premier League top ten

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBNAMEYANG scored his first Premier League hat-trick as Arsenal blitzed Leeds to move back into the top half of the table.

The superstar striker was simply too hot for Leeds to handle on a freezing afternoon in North London.

Hector Bellerin joined in the fun with his first goal in 13 months.

And even a late Leeds fightback could not deny Arsenal the win they needed to get their season back on track.

Mikel Arteta’s men were at right from the first whistle, with Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and Bellerin all chancing their arm in the opening three minutes without troubling keeper Illan Meslier.

And with Aubameyang also back in the starting-line up for the first time in six games, there was a real eagerness about Arsenal’s play.

Yet it was the visitors who managed the game’s first shot on target when Jack Harrison picked out Patrick Bamford for a 12th-minute header which was comfortably saved by Bernd Leno.

Arsenal, though, were not about to concede the initiative and two minutes later were deservedly ahead through Aubameyang.

There didn’t seem to be too much danger when the Arsenal captain took the ball from Granit Xhaka but he was able to step inside Luke Ayling and beat Meslier with a low shot inside the near post.

It wasn’t exactly a thunderbolt and Meslier probably should have done better considering he got a firm hand to the shot.


Yet even with the comfort of that early lead Arsenal still didn’t look totally secure against a Leeds team who were always threatening on the counter.

The visitors could have been level after 25 minutes when Raphinha’s rolled an inviting pass into the path of Harrison but the shot was straight at Leno again, much to Marcelo Bielsa’s frustration.

Aubameyang was denied a second goal by Ayling’s brilliant block as the game continued to ebb and flow at a crazy pace.

Bukayo Saka was causing Leeds all kinds of problems down their left flank and the teenager thought he had won a 34th minute penalty when he went down under a challenge from Liam Cooper.

Referee Stuart Attwell pointed straight to the spot but reversed his decision after being advised by VAR official Andre Marriner to look at the incident on the TV monitor and ruling that there had been minimal contact.

But it was to prove only a momentary reprieve for the visitors and five minutes later there was no dispute when Attwell pointed to the spot again.

Once again it was Saka who drew the foul, pouncing on Meslier’s poor touch from a Cooper backpass then taking a hefty whack on the ankle as the keeper tried to make amends for his error.

Aubameyang made no mistake with his penalty, sending Meslier the wrong way to take his season’s tally to nine.

It had been a terrible 45 minutes for Leeds’ young French keeper, and his misery was complete on the stroke of half-time when he was beaten again inside his near post by Bellerin’s powerful shot.

And his afternoon didn’t get any better after the break, when he was beaten again by Aubameyang’s flying header from Smith Rowe’s 47th minute cross.

Pascal Styruijk closed the gap with a thumping 59th minute header and ten minutes later Helder Costa reduced the deficit still further.

But it was too little too late from Marcelo Bielsa’s team who have now conceded 22 goals in their last seven Premier League games in London.

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