Mikel Arteta, Unai Emery, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang himself have all had their say on Arsenal’s club captain ahead of a crucial semi-final second leg.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s return to the Arsenal team has given them a big boost in the build-up to this Thursday. The striker went close with a late chance in the first leg, but he only made a brief substitute appearance on that occasion.
Aubameyang had been out of action with a pretty bad case of malaria, leaving him with fevers that lasted days and worrying weight loss. It’s no wonder it took a while for him to get back on the pitch.
But when he did get a start this weekend, he made it count with a goal and an assist against Newcastle United. Mikel Arteta expects him to be up for the second leg now.
“This game always gives you another opportunity,” Arteta said. “If you are there, then you are ready for the taking. He can turn things around really quickly so hopefully, we can see that tomorrow.”
Villarreal manager Unai Emery obviously knows Aubameyang well, from his time managing Arsenal. He also had his say on what he expects from his opponent’s club captain.
“Aubameyang is a killer. He was, he is, he always will be,” Emery added. “Aubameyang is there to work, to defend the team, and do everything for the team. When he performs at the top level it’s going to be very difficult to stop.”
As for Aubameyang, he doesn’t deny he’s still not at full fitness. Speaking in his press conference on Wednesday, he also conceded that it was fair to expect more than he’s given so far this season, but he has the chance to put that right this month.
First things first, reporters asked the 31-year-old how he was feeling.
“I would say 90%,” Aubameyang admitted. “Yeah definitely, yes (I’m ready to start). When it’s important like this, of course. In my mind, I feel more than 100%, but yeah for sure physically I’m not 100%.
“This season has been difficult. Everyone was expecting me to score more goals I know it. Maybe I feel a bit responsible for the situation we are in right now. But we have a chance to change it.”