Nicolas Pepe missed a huge chance to level the scoreline for Arsenal as his fellow teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not happy about that, frustration all over his face.
After being left out of the squad for the North London Derby on Sunday for disciplinary issues, it was refreshing to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back captaining the side on Thursday night.
There was no chance that the 32-year-old was going to be late for this game, as he posted a picture on his Instagram story of his car being set firmly to sport mode as he aimed to overcome the infamous Muswell Hill traffic that had defeated his just four days prior.
In his pre-match programme notes the Gabon striker laid down a statement of intent that the Olympiacos game would be his chance to put the issue behind him.
“On my own situation, I have spoken with the boss and it’s all done now – we move on.”
And yet as the game began he looked nervous when chances fell to him.
The first big opportunity of the night came after Dani Ceballos found him in the box with more or less just the ‘keeper to beat. Uncharacteristically Aubameyang toe poked the ball over the bar.
In isolation this would have meant nothing, but then the missed chances started to stack up.
A one-on-one was skewed wide as the Gunners chased an equaliser on the night to put the tie to bed, before the Gabon striker snatched at a decent opportunity in the area and scissor kicked the rebound over the bar from six yards out.
The frustration began to build for Aubameyang and as Nicolas Pepe fired a low effort straight at Jose Sa, the 31-year-old – normally so calm and composed on the pitch – began throwing his arms up in the air and hopping around in petulant annoyance.
There can be no doubting that the Arsenal captain was eager to impress after his misdemeanour on Sunday, although speaking after the game Arteta said he was hopeful that this hadn’t been the case.
“We moved on from that,” said the Spaniard.
“He started the game today. We expect him when he does play that he performs at the level he can do.”
It may not have been Aubameyang’s night on Thursday, but the Gabonese forward will get his opportunity again most likely when Arsenal take on West Ham.
The best strikers are capable of compartmentalising these frustrating matches and moving on as though nothing ever happened. The coming Sunday’s match at the London Stadium will be another chance for the Gunners captain to show why he is rightly considered among that group.
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