Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a superb hat-trick as Arsenal ended their three-game winless run with victory over Leeds United at Emirates Stadium.
Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 14th minute before doubling his side’s advantage from the spot towards the end of the first half.
Right-back Hector Bellerin grabbed a third on the stroke of half-time, with Aubameyang completing his hat-trick with a header moments after the restart.
But from 4-0 down Leeds grabbed two second-half goals through Pascal Struijk and substitute Helder Costa to give Arsenal a late scare.
Aubameyang punishes sloppy Leeds
Making his first start in almost a month, Arsenal skipper Aubameyang proved just how valuable he is to the north London club.
Since he was last named in a starting XI, the Gunners had gone out of the FA Cup and taken four points from four games in the league.
Right from the off he looked lively, cutting in from the left and finding the bottom corner with a cultured finish in the opening quarter.
And he was denied a second moments later when Leeds defender Luke Ayling superbly blocked his shot after good work from David Luiz.
VAR intervention led to referee Stuart Atwell overturning an Arsenal penalty after Bukayo Saka was brought down by Liam Cooper in the 35th minute.
But the 19-year-old won another spot-kick minutes later, being tripped by Leeds keeper Illan Meslier after the stopper was unable to clear a routine backpass.
Aubameyang made no mistake from 12 yards – sending Meslier the wrong way – before Bellerin caught out the Frenchman at his near post to net Arsenal’s third.
Arsenal started the second half just as they finished the first, with Gabon international Aubameyang heading home Emile Smith Rowe’s cross to net his second ever Arsenal hat-trick – his first since the Gunners beat Valencia 4-2 in the Europa League in May 2019.
And he nearly had a fourth in the 73rd minute, curling the ball against the crossbar following a well-worked counter-attack.
Meslier struggles as Leeds miss Phillips
Despite a disastrous first 47 minutes, at one point in the second period Leeds looked destined to leave London with a point.
Struijk’s thumping header from a Raphinha corner just before the hour-mark and Costa’s close-range finish 11 minutes later halved the deficit, with the Yorkshire side’s first two real chances of the game.
At 4-2 Patrick Bamford went down in the area under pressure from multiple Arsenal defenders with 15 minutes remaining, only for play to be waved on.
But, after a few nervous minutes, it was Arsenal who always looked the likelier to grab the game’s seventh goal, with Saka striking the post in the 80th minute.
Without star midfielder Kalvin Phillips the visitors struggled to get on the ball, and have now conceded four goals or more for the fifth time since gaining promotion to the Premier League.
For all their attacking flair Leeds remain leaky at the back, with strugglers West Brom the only side to have conceded more goals in the league this season.
The result means Arsenal leapfrog Leeds to go 10th in the table, six points off the top four.
Leeds’ London woes – the stats
- Arsenal scored four (or more) goals at the Emirates for the first time in the Premier League this season, having last done so in a 4-0 win over Norwich in July of last season.
- Leeds have won just one of their last 24 away league games in London (D6 L17), losing all four such matches this season by an aggregate 14-4 score.
- Leeds remain without a win in nine meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (D2 L7), since a 3-2 victory in the Premier League at Highbury in May 2003.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 199th, 200th and 201st goals in Europe’s big-five leagues in what was his 369th appearance. He is one of just nine players to score 200+ goals across the five divisions.
- Aubameyang was the third player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick on Valentine’s Day, after Matt le Tissier vs Liverpool in 1994 and Michael Owen vs Sheffield Wednesday in 1998.