Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wasn’t 100% healthy or fit on Thursday, which is why he only made the bench against Villarreal.

April 29, 2021, Villarreal, Spain: Alberto Moreno Perez of Villarreal CF and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal FC are seen in action during the UEFA Europa League Semi-Final First Leg at Estadio de la Ceramica. Villarreal Spain. Copyright: Xisco Navarro
April 29, 2021, Villarreal, Spain: Alberto Moreno Perez of Villarreal CF and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal FC are seen in action during the UEFA Europa League Semi-Final First Leg at Estadio de la Ceramica. Villarreal Spain. Copyright: Xisco Navarro

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to the Arsenal matchday squad that faced Villarreal on Thursday, but many fans were disappointed and surprised not to see him in the starting lineup. Instead, Emile Smith Rowe started as a false nine.

The Daily Mail report that unfortunately, Aubameyang wasn’t up to full fitness, nor was he fully healthy after his recent battle with malaria.

The striker made himself available to be called upon by Arteta, but he’d barely trained fully since his last match on April 8th, three weeks ago.

As a result, Aubameyang was only really ready for a substitute appearance, which is what he made towards the end of the match.

This isn’t to excuse Mikel Arteta’s decision not to play a striker. He still had options up front, from Gabriel Martinelli to Folarin Balogun and Eddie Nketiah. He chose to go with a player in a new and unfamiliar role and has to bear the consequences of that.

But it does explain why Aubameyang didn’t start the match, and the hope is that next week will be different.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.