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City test: Arsenal boss Arteta backs Aubameyang

Gunners striker rediscovers form ahead of Emirates Stadium clash

18 February, 2021 — By Steve Barnett

MIKEL Arteta will be looking to fight fire with fire this weekend when Arsenal entertain Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners boss is calling for his side to go for goal and maintain the clinical creativity they showed in the barnstorming 4-2 win over Leeds.

But it won’t be easy as Arteta takes on old mentor Pep Guardiola and a City side threatening to run away with the Premier League title.

After watching his charges fire four past Leeds, Arteta said: “We’ve been working on it [scoring goals], and demanding that we are more ruthless and more composed in the box.

“Sometimes we hurry things up, but [against Leeds] we were much better. We scored some really good goals and created a lot of goalscoring situations.

“We want to play a type of football where we can create many goals every game.”

Having previously suffered back-to-back defeats away to Aston Villa and Wolves, Arteta was quick to praise the mental strength his players showed in their return to winning ways.

He added: “The application and the desire that the boys showed from the first minute, after two difficult defeats to digest, was great.

“This is what we have to do. If we keep playing the way we’re playing we can only improve as a team. There are a lot of things we can do better, but overall the boys deserve some credit.”

Any chance that Arsenal have of winning on Sunday will surely rest at the feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will step onto the pitch in confident mood having scored his first ever league hat-trick for the club against Leeds.

“I am delighted for him, he deserved it,” purred Arteta.

“We know that a big part of our future success is related to Auba being at his best and scoring as many goals as possible.

“If he is in that type of form we are going to be closer to winning football matches, that is clear.

“We cannot just rely on him, but he is a big piece of our puzzle. And you could see that against Leeds – when he is firing he is a difficult player to play against.”

Arsenal are set for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Benfica tonight (Thursday), which was switched to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome due to the current Covid-19 regulations.

The return “home” leg next week, Thursday February 25, has also been moved to a neutral venue, and will take place at Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis in Athens.

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