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Arsenal 3-2 Everton: Arteta ‘really happy’ after ‘physically demanding’ game
Mikel Arteta hopes he can convince Arsenal’s “most important player” Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay at the club after he scored twice to help the Gunners to a 3-2 win over Everton.
Aubameyang now has 19 goals this season and 60 in 95 games for the London club.
It has been reported that he wants to play in the Champions League next season and has been linked with a move.
“Before I took over I had my questions about him but he has shown his commitment,” said Arteta.
“I wanted him to show if he wanted to do it and do it physically.
“I’m so happy with him. He is scoring important goals and as a captain he is giving a great example to everyone else with the way he is working defensively.”
Aubameyang’s current contract runs until the summer of 2021.
He has been linked with a transfer to Barcelona, who reportedly tried to sign him in January.
“They are completely right to want him because he is a superb player,” continued Arteta. “It’s right that big teams like him. Hopefully we can convince him this is right place to be.
“I think it’s been tough for him because he has big expectations. He wants to play in the biggest competitions and with the best players. We have to help him do that. He needs to feel fulfilled.
“He is our most important player, no doubt the impact he has in this team. We will have to convince him to stay with us.”
The 30-year-old Gabon international again demonstrated his supreme finishing in Sunday’s win, giving them the lead with a low finish after Eddie Nketiah had cancelled out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 49th-second opener for Everton.
Aubameyang then restored his side’s lead 26 seconds into the second half with a header after Richarlison had poked Everton level in first-half injury time.
The Gunners striker also made a joint game-high three tackles for his side, along with a clearance and an interception.
Arsenal’s win lifts them up to ninth in the table and boosts their hopes of qualifying for Europe next season.
Should Manchester City’s Champions League ban be upheld, fifth place could be good enough for Champions League qualification. The Gunners are currently four points behind fifth-placed Manchester United.
‘The best week since I’ve been here’
Arteta has made a positive impact at Arsenal since taking over from Unai Emery in December.
Sunday’s win means they remain unbeaten in 2020 and gives them back-to-back league victories for the first time since the opening two matches of the campaign.
It also means they have won three games in the past week, having won at Newcastle before beating Olympiakos in the first leg of their Europa league last-32 tie on Thursday.
But they had to work hard for it on Sunday after gifting Everton their two goals through defensive mistakes.
“I’m really pleased with the performance,” Arteta said. “It’s not easy to play three times in seven days, we got back late from Greece, and then to concede an early goal as well.
“That asks questions of you. The team reacted really well. This is the reaction I am hoping for when we face disappointment. It’s the best week since I’ve been here.”
‘Calvert-Lewin must do more’
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Arsenal 3-2 Everton: Ancelotti says his team were ‘defensively not good enough’
Everton could have claimed at least a point, with Calvert-Lewin particularly profligate in front of goal in the second half.
The 22-year-old has been much improved this season, with his goal at the Emirates his 14th in 30 games in all competitions and his ninth in his last 12 league games.
However, his manager Carlo Ancelotti still believes he can provide more.
“He is doing well but he is not enough,” said the Italian. “If he wants to be a top striker, he has to work more hard, focus hard, work more.
“He is doing well but he has to have the game to be focused all the time.”
Ancelotti also feels his side can improve defensively, and felt the performance was a step down from their recent displays, which had seen them take 11 league points from the last available 15 prior to Sunday.
“There was a good performance in front. We were good coming from the back, we had some good chances,” the Everton boss added. “Defensively, we were terrible. We have to improve. There were three goals we could have avoided. It was too easy for Arsenal to score three goals.
“We had a lot of opportunities at the end of the game to equalise and we did not get it. We are working, we believe in what we are doing. Today was a step down.
“We need to refocus. We need to re-balance. We did one part good but we did one part bad.”