There were plenty of positives for Mikel Arteta to take from Arsenal’s win over Newcastle, but it is unlikely anything will have been more pleasing than the sight of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang getting himself on the scoresheet.
During the first-half, that didn’t look like it was going to happen as the forward missed a glorious chance when he struck the post with the goal gapping in front of him.
Aubameyang went close on other occasions too, and you could sense his hunger to score and the frustration building.
All that was eradicated in the 50th minute when, put through by Thomas Partey, he left his full-back for dead and slammed the ball home.
It was a glorious finish, one befitting of a player of Aubameyang’s quality, but it was also a sight we have not seen much of this season.
Indeed, tonight was only the second time this season that the 31-year-old has scored in a home Premier League game.
He has, largely, looked a shadow of the player who fired Arsenal to FA Cup glory last season, but Arteta will hope tonight he has turned a corner.
Aubameyang’s first goal was a brilliant finish, however his second would have been equally satisfying. It was a case of right place, right time as he swept home Cedric Soares’ cut-back and for a forward, those goals are just as important.
The sight of Aubameyang scoring will be a delight to Arteta, who has had to steady Arsenal’s season without his star striker being on form.
Now, though, there are signs that the Gabon international could be starting to find his feet again. He has four goals in his last six games and Arteta will hope the best is yet to come.
Partey and Smith Rowe shine in midfield
Make no mistake about it, this Newcastle team were hardly the toughest opposition Arsenal will face - but they made light work of them once they got going. The Gunners dominated the game and, when they clicked into gear in the second half, they ran away with it.
At the heart of it was Partey, who bossed the midfield in a manner that will get Arsenal fans very excited. The team has been crying out for a player with that level of dynamism and ability on the ball for years. Now Arsenal have it, you wonder how they ever coped without it.
Ahead of him, Emile Smith Rowe caught the eye too. It was he who setup the second goal, cutting the ball back for Bukayo Saka to stroke home. Like Partey, he offers Arsenal something they haven’t had recently. He is a dynamic No10, someone who works hard with and without the ball. Arsenal have been desperate for creativity all season and Smith Rowe has shown he deserves this chance to prove he can offer it.
Cedric shows he is pushing to take Bellerin’s spot
To wrap up a night of positives, Cedric Soares demonstrated how he deserves more chances going forward. The right-back has largely been overlooked since joining from Southampton, but on this evidence he is worthy of a run of games.
The right-back got forward whenever he could, linking up well with Saka. His assist for Aubameyang’s third was well worked too and Hector Bellerin should be looking over his shoulder. The Spaniard has had the right-back spot locked down all season, however now it feels like he has genuine competition. Another positive on a night where everything went right for Arteta.