Arsenal romped to a 4-0 win over West Brom on Saturday.
Arguably, this was the best 90 minutes of football Arsenal have played under Mikel Arteta since he took charge. Is it a damning statement to make considering how appalling West Brom were on the night? Not at all.
Arsenal have won matches playing in different manner. Heck, they’ve lifted trophies operating in a less enjoyable way.
The quality of the opposition will, of course, act as a caveat to all the praise directed the Gunners’ way after the 4-0 win. But looking at it less cynically, the fact Arsenal were able to dominate a Sam Allardyce side from the first minute to the last is testament to the improvements made in the team. Arsenal have managed to make a name for themselves being poor against…poor teams.
Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney will earn the plaudits following that victory – their displays were excellent – and while the captain was also singled out, it was just for the wrong reasons.
Well, not quite.
In a season unlike any in his career to date, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed marked signs of improvement despite being widely seen as the ‘weak link’ at the Hawthorns. In comparison to previous weeks, there was more intent with his movement and his work-rate was relentless. Seeing him back among the goals would’ve been the icing on an already delightfully decorated cake.
The weight of expectation has been lifted off his shoulders now goals are sprouting up from other areas. He didn’t find the back of the net as a result, but he was the most threatening he’s been in weeks.
On Saturday he attacked the posts, got involved in breakaways and linked up neatly with Tierney. The left-back played more advanced than he did at times, a sacrifice that was made to allow for the Scot to utilise his superior crossing ability.
But still Aubamayeng was getting on the end of chances.
This was no vintage display, granted. However, when you’re looking for encouragement off the back of recent performances, there was more than enough hush a few doubters. Aubameyang was salivating for a goal at the Hawthorns. Before he’d have been happy to wait for scraps.
Consecutive home matches against Crystal Palace and Newcastle are to come. Play like that and Aubameyang will rediscover his goalscoring touch.