The Warm Down: Aubameyang hat-trick fires Arsenal into Europa League final
 (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

The Warm Down: Aubameyang hat-trick fires Arsenal into Europa League final

Arsenal progressed to the Europa League final with a 4-2 (7-3 aggregate) victory over Valencia where they will face Chelsea on 29th May in Baku.

andy-preston
Andy Preston

Arsenal reached their first European final since 2006 with a semi-final victory against Spanish side Valencia thanks to a hat-trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gunners took a 3-1 lead going into the second leg and with a ferocious atmosphere to contend with in the Mestalla, Valencia made the perfect start to heap the pressure on Arsenal as they took the lead after 10 minutes. 

But Arsenal enjoyed a clinical second half as Alexandre Lacazette scored a crucial second away goal and despite Kevin Gameiro equalising for the hosts, Aubameyang rounded off a brilliant night with his first hat-trick in an Arsenal shirt.

Awesome Aubameyang

Aubameyang had arguably his best night since joining Arsenal as he showcased his appetite for the big occasion alongside his strike partner Lacazette. 

Having made a difficult start to the match in a heated atmosphere, Aubameyang struck for the Gunners at the perfect time to alleviate some pressure. He latched onto Lacazette's flick on and brought the ball under control with his chest before hitting the bouncing ball into the corner beyond Neto's reach. 

Aubameyang then showed a mix of blistering pace and determination to lead an Arsenal counter attack and Lacazette showed exceptional strength and control to work some space in the box before firing the ball into the bottom corner.

Since making his debut in August 2017, Lacazette has been involved in more Arsenal goals than any other player (36 goals, 15 assists). 

Ainsley Maitland-Niles worked some space on the wing with some neat footwork and his whipped cross was met expertly at the near post by Aubameyang who converted to all but send Arsenal through to the final. 

But Aubameyang wasn't done there as he sealed his hat-trick in the 88th minute. He traded passes with Henrikh Mkhitaryan before lashing the ball into the roof of the net to score his 29th goal of the season.

Lacazette and/or Aubameyang have been involved in 11 of Arsenal's last 12 goals in the Europa League.

London Derby in Baku 

Arsenal will face familiar opponents in Chelsea in Baku with the Gunners looking to win a European trophy with the added incentive of a place in next season's Champions League on the line. 

The sides are level with one win each this season. Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 at Stamford Bridge in August but the Unai Emery's side got redemption over their London rivals with a 2-0 win at the Emirates in January. 

Arsenal and Chelsea have faced each other in finals on three previous occasions. The Gunners won their most recent meeting in a final in the 2017 FA Cup final and also beat the Blues in the 2002 FA Cup Final. Meanwhile, Chelsea defeated Arsenal in the 2007 League Cup Final. 

Emery seeks fourth Europa success

Emery will be looking to add a fourth Europa League trophy to his collection while his opposing manager Maurizio Sarri is seeking his first major trophy of his career. 

Arsenal's form has fluctuated throughout the season and despite having endured a terrible run of form in the last couple of months which saw them miss out on a top four place, The Gunners should take encouragement from their last two European ties.

For all of their shortcomings, Arsenal managed to overcome a very strong Napoli outfit in the quarter-final with a 3-0 aggregate win and Emery again showed his tactical nous in the big games with his Arsenal side progressing with a comprehensive win in Valencia. 

Arsenal will be without their most reliable big game player Aaron Ramsey, who scored the winner when the sides met in the 2017 FA Cup Final. But with the sensational form of the dynamic duo of Lacazette and Aubameyang, Gunners fans have cause to be hopeful that they can add a European trophy to their collection. 

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