Arsenal vs. Leeds player ratings: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores sensational hat trick

Arsenal survived a second-half wobble to earn a 4-2 win over Leeds United as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his first Premier League hat-trick. The Gunners seemed to be out of sight as they led 3-0 at the interval and certainly when Aubameyang netted his hat-trick in the 47th minute any hope of a Leeds’ fightback seemed over. 

The visitors had been woeful in the first half as Arsenal’s captain scored one low drive and netted a penalty before Hector Bellerin made it three in the 45th minute. The margin might even have been more if referee Stuart Attwell had not overturned a penalty for a foul by Liam Cooper on the excellent Bukayo Saka.

However Leeds briefly threatened a remarkable comeback around the hour as first Pascal Strujik thumped a header past Bernd Leno and then Helder Costa finished a flowing move down the left. Arsenal are the only side to have let a four-goal lead slip in a Premier League game but on this occasion they held on, with Aubameyang denied a fourth when his curling effort hammered off the post.

Recap the individual ratings from the game below:

Arsenal ratings

Bernd Leno: A couple of solid holds early in the game and there was nothing Leno could have done to stop a powerful header from Strujik that denied him a clean sheet. Rating: 6

Hector Bellerin: It is perhaps nit-picking to point out there were a few heavy touches because this was for the most part an impressive attacking performance by the Spaniard that included a goal. However he was all too careless in allowing Tyler Roberts to slip in behind for Leeds’ second goal. Rating: 7

David Luiz: In the first half his willingness to go long was often a crucial facet in Arsenal beating the Leeds’ press whilst he channelled his indignation at Saka being denied a penalty into defending well against a Leeds side that caused no little danger in the second period. Rating: 6

Gabriel: Though he does not yet look the player he was before his COVID diagnosis this was an impressively assertive performance from Gabriel, typified when he muscled Patrick Bamford off the ball in the penalty area. Rating: 7

Cedric Soares: The veteran did not set the game alight in an attacking sense but performed just how any manager would want his reserve defender to, defending his flank ably and ensuring that Raphinha felt compelled to try the other flank for the second half. Rating: 7

Dani Ceballos: An impressive replacement for Thomas Partey, Ceballos was constantly looking for ways to burst through the Leeds press and feed his teammates in good positions. His nutmeg assist for Bellerin’s goal was the highlight of an excellent display. Rating: 8

Granit Xhaka: A fine assist for Aubameyang helped get Arsenal on course for victory. Xhaka’s range of passing was crucial in getting the Gunners around Leeds whilst in defense he was able to drop into the channels to offer support for his left-back. Rating: 8

Bukayo Saka: As is increasingly the case, Saka adapted his approach to the needs of the game. On this occasion he smelled blood in the Leeds rearguard and simply ran at them, challenging them to make tackles. He should have had two penalties before the interval, he got one. Rating: 8

Emile Smith Rowe: His interplay with Aubameyang was one of the most impressive aspects of an outstanding first half for Arsenal, the youngster dragging defenders around the left flank and beyond to open up the attacking lanes his club captain so relished. Whether his assist for the No. 14 was a cross or a shot only he will know but it all came about through the excellent pressing that is Smith Rowe’s calling card. Rating: 8

Martin Odegaard: Though he slowed notably in the second half he was excellent on his first start, a pirouette spin to take him around two defenders typifying his fearlessness in possession. Rating: 8

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: When he gets to his spots he still looks like the player he has always been in an Arsenal shirt, from the left corner of the box you knew he was scoring even though the chance was difficult. He has waited long enough for his hat-trick and he took it with style. Rating: 9

Willian (sub, Smith Rowe, 62′): The Brazilian did little right or wrong with Arsenal subdued as an attacking force, particularly down the left. Rating: 5

Mohamed Elneny (sub, Odegaard, 78′): Elneny pressed, kept the ball and looked to pass forward where possible in a solid cameo to ease the pressure on the Arsenal goal. Rating: 6

Mikel Arteta: His decision to bench Nicolas Pepe for a more technical side was vindicated. That Arsenal wobbled was no great surprise but his latter changes, particularly the introduction of Mohamed Elneny, took some of the heat out of the game. Rating: 7

Leeds ratings

Illan Meslier: A really tough game for the youngster, who was altogether too cavalier in possession to allow Saka to force a penalty. Though Bellerin’s shot for Arsenal’s third was well hit he will surely have been frustrated to have been beaten at his near post. Rating: 4

Jamie Shackleton: Deployed in an unfamiliar defensive role in light of Kalvin Phillips’ absence, he was not always perfect in defense but he was composed and elegant on the ball. He certainly does not deserve to carry the can for Leeds’ poor first half. Rating: 6

Luke Ayling: An outstanding block to deny Aubameyang was one of the game’s most impressive moments, especially from players in a Leeds shirt. Rating: 6

Liam Cooper: Incredibly fortunate not to concede a penalty when he felled Saka, one might have expected more composure and authority from the senior centre-back in a reshuffled defense. Rating: 5

Ezgjan Alioski: On occasion it seemed there was nothing he could do to slow Saka, who seemed determined to get revenge on the Leeds No. 10 who so riled Nicolas Pepe in the reverse fixture. He found the Arsenal No. 7 to be a test that he was not up to. Rating: 4

Jack Harrison: In Leeds’ best moments of the first half, Harrison was a constant. His delivery from the left was tempting and he manufactured perhaps the best shooting chance on Leno’s goal. Rating: 6

Pascal Struijk: A towering header set the stage for Leeds’ stunning fightback and he certainly looks a solid option for any aerial duels. On the ground he had rather more difficulties dealing with the interchanging of Arsenal’s frontline in the first half but seemed to pick up more loose balls in the second. Rating: 6

Mateusz Klich: If anyone typified this curiously passive Leeds in the first 45 minutes it was Klich, often so dynamic but a non-entity in this match beyond one early shot, though that was perhaps explained at full-time when Bielsa revealed that his midfielder had offered to play despite carrying a hip injury. Rating: 4

Stuart Dallas: He perhaps struggled to get a handle on Ceballos in the first half but Dallas was solid in possession and led the game with four interceptions. Rating: 5

Raphinha: In open play the Brazilian was not the devastating presence that he had been in past games there were still flashes of his excellence as Leeds attempted to fight back. His deliveries from corners continually asked questions of Arsenal. Rating: 6

Patrick Bamford: In such a rich vein of form, Bamford struggled to get into this contest, his match typified when he was squeezed off the ball in the penalty area by a combination of Cedric and Gabriel. Rating: 5

Tyler Roberts (sub, Klich, 46′): A smart dart in behind allowed him to square for Costa to net the second, his addition brought that little bit more danger in the final third as he flitted across the frontline looking to be a menace. Rating: 6

Helder Costa (sub, Harrison, 46′): If many Leeds players looked peripheral to the contest in the first half you could not accuse Costa of that in the second. He was tracking runners down the left one moment, darting in behind the next. His goal was no less than he deserved. Rating: 6

Niall Huggins (sub, Alioski, 53′): He certainly did not look like a debutant in a composed first appearance. Whenever the opportunity came his way he would look to attack and did so with no little technical quality. Rating: 6

Marcelo Bielsa: The manager deserves no little credit for the fact that Leeds were so improved in the second half and his substitutions clearly tweaked the game in such a way as to make for a greater challenge for an Arsenal side that looks to be out of sight. Rating: 6

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