Going into their 4-2 win over Leeds United on Sunday, Arsenal were suffering with a bout of goalshyness.
In their previous three Premier League games against Aston Villa, Wolves and Manchester United, the Gunners had managed just one goal, despite racking up 41 shots and an xG of 2.8. This lack of cutting edge has haunted Mikel Arteta's side for the majority of the season, but there was little evidence of it during their statement victory over Marcelo Bielsa's charges.
So, what explains Arsenal renewed attacking vigour? Well, looking at things simplistically, the return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was key in their clinical display. After a period on the sidelines following a family emergency and a few substitute appearances to rebuild his fitness, he was restored to the starting XI and put in an excellent performance.
Early on in the first half he received a pass from Granit Xhaka on the left wing. Facing up against former Gunner Luke Ayling, Aubameyang pulled out a pair of velvety step overs and cut inside before deceiving Illan Meslier with a wicked shot across goal. It was the finish of a player in red hot form, not one that has only scored twice since Christmas.
Things soon got even better for Aubameyang, when he smashed home a penalty just before half time. Minutes after the break he would complete his hat trick, latching onto Emile Smith Rowe's cross-cum-shot with a wonderfully old school diving header at the back post.
Surprisingly, his three goals represented his first ever Premier League hat trick and his return to scoresheet will come a massive boost both personally and for his team. Much has been written about Aubameyang's struggles in front of goal since he 'signed da ting', but his trio against Leeds moves him into double figure in all competitions.
His return to form was not the only reason for Arsenal's supporters to get excited following Sunday's contest. The rest of the Gunners' youthful front four also put in performances to be proud of. The club's lord and saviour Bukayo Saka stood out as always, playing a large part in his side's second and third goals.
His role in the latter was particularly joyous. Receiving a pass on the right wing, Saka gaffer-taped the ball to his foot and ambled the width of the penalty box, shrugging off the swarms of opposition defenders off with ice cool composure. Eventually, he decided to let his teammates in on the fun and seconds later, Hector Bellerin had smashed home at the near post.
His low socked sidekick, Smith-Rowe, strengthened his application for the 'English attacking midfielders who must go to the Euros' club as well, picking up some excellent positions with his back to goal and also spinning in behind to keep the opposition on their toes.
Knitting it all together was new arrival Martin Odegaard. The Norwegian will no doubt have better games in a red shirt, but he still offered glimpses of his mercurial talent with some clever flicks and feints, as well as some probing passes.
What's more, Arteta did not even see fit to use Gabriel Martinelli or Nicolas Pepe on Sunday - testament to his squad's depth in the forward department.
It had been far from a vintage season for Arsenal so far. However, with Aubameyang back among the goals and the supporting cast around him capable of some eminently watchable moments, Gunners fans could be treated to some sexy football, and more importantly, some great results before the campaign draws to a close.
Source : 90min