London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta hopes the return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fires an Arsenal revival after the Gabon striker marked his first start this season with a hat-trick in the 6-0 League Cup second round win at West Bromwich Albion.
Aubameyang missed Arsenal’s shock defeat at Brentford in their Premier League opener after he contracted Covid-19.
The Arsenal captain came off the bench in Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat against Chelsea but could not spare his side from their worst ever start to a season.
With the pressure mounting on Arsenal boss Arteta, Aubameyang rode to the rescue against Championship promotion chasers Albion at the Hawthorns.
He scored Arsenal’s first goals this season with two close-range efforts in the first half before sealing his hat-trick with a curling strike after the interval.
Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette also got on the scoresheet to at least temporarily ease the pressure on Arteta.
Aubameyang gave his shirt to a young Arsenal fans as the travelling support hailed their team’s talisman.
Asked if the fans returning following the end of Covid restrictions can make a difference in Aubameyang’s performances, Arteta replied: “I hope they do.
“Obviously he is a really happy character and he needs that connection with people; with family, with friends, with fans.
“You could see the interaction when he left the pitch and I think that is something really positive for him, yes.”
Arteta admitted he was relieved to get a win under his belt ahead of Saturday’s tough trip to Premier League champions Manchester City.
Reports before Wednesday’s game claimed Arsenal have lined up former Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte to replace Arteta if results don’t improve quickly.
“When you lose a game, as quick as possible you have to win,” Arteta said.
“Today’s game is going to give us some confidence. We had players who played some first minutes.
“Auba after his Covid, to get some minutes and score three goals for his confidence is going to be great. Overall I think a really positive night.”
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