Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played a leading role in Arsenal’s comprehensive north London derby win with his pressing from the front highlighted as he also got on the scoresheet
Gary Neville has hailed the influence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a man he thought Arsenal had “lost”, in their north London derby win.
The Gunners captain scored the second of their three first-half goals as they ran riot in the opening 45 minutes.
Aubameyang was linked with the exit door back in the summer after Arsenal missed out on European football last term.
Only last summer did the Gabon international pen a new deal at the Emirates but there were rumours of the club cashing in on their prized asset.
Mikel Arteta was adamant his striker was going nowhere, despite some of his performances suggesting he was becoming disinterested.
However Neville has cited the way he “set the tone” for his younger team-mates as a huge plus on Sunday.
He said on his podcast : “Before this game today, when you saw that team come through and you saw the three young ones behind Aubameyang.
“I thought they’d lost him (Aubameyang) a few months ago, I thought he doesn’t look like he wants to be here anymore.
“But today it was really interesting because I thought from the first minute he set the tone as a striker with the speed of his pressing and the young ones in behind really did well.”
Aubameyang’s new deal came off the back of a season where he scored 29 times, including a brace in the FA Cup final.
However last term, in a team that struggled, the 32-year-old managed to net just 15 times.
Nevertheless he remains a key cog for Arteta, who dedicated Sunday’s derby win to the fans.
He told Sky Sports : “This win is for the fans. They were incredible in tough moments when we needed their support.
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“It doesn’t get much better than the atmosphere we saw here today. It was one of the nicest feelings I had, certainly in this stadium.
“It was a big occasion, to win it the way we did, and to feel that connection with team and supporters made it really special.
“It’s impossible to attract people and connect with what we’re trying to do if we don’t have fans here. It makes such a difference. We want to entertain them and play in a way that makes them proud.”
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Emile Smith Rowe, who scored the game’s opener, has come through the club’s academy and put his emotions into context.
“It’s probably the best day of my life,” he claimed. “To have my family here as well, it’s a special feeling.
“The fans have done so much for us today and we want to thank them as much as we can. I feel like we’ve worked so hard.
“We had a tough start to the season. I feel like it’s going really well at the moment but we need to keep our heads down.”