Mikel Arteta is thrilled with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Arsenal captain marked his return to fitness with a goal after recovering from malaria… and he hopes his star man can lead them past Villarreal into the Europa League final
- Mikel Arteta hailed the return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Sunday
- The striker netted in the Gunners’ 2-0 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park
- Aubameyang played 77 minutes in his first start since recovering from malaria
- He is looking to play a part in the Europa League semi-final against Villarreal
Aubameyang only managed a brief appearance from the bench as the Gunners were beaten 2-1 in the first leg in Spain last week.
But the striker played 77 minutes as Arteta’s side beat Newcastle 2-0 on Sunday and he also netted the second goal to signal he is ready to play a part in the return fixture at the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored on his first start since recovering from malaria
Mikel Arteta hailed the striker’s return to fitness ahead of the second leg of the Europa League semi-final with Villarreal
When asked if Aubameyang had played himself into contention, Arteta said: ‘We thought he wasn’t going to manage that (coming off the bench last week).
‘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.’
The forward scored the second goal as Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park
The Gunners went 2-0 down against Villarreal last week but were given a lifeline when Nicolas Pepe converted a penalty to score a crucial away goal.
Should Arsenal progress, they will likely face Manchester United in the final. The red Devils are heavy favourites having won their first leg 6-2.
While Aubameyang’s return was pleasing for the Arsenal boss, the loss of David Luiz to injury leaves him with another problem.
The defender was forced off with a hamstring injury after making a comeback following knee surgery.