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Marseille 'Peter Pan' Aubameyang shows Arsenal exactly what they are missing as sumptuous chip downs Thionville in Coupe de France


By Alessandro Schiavone in Metz


Thionville Lusitanos 0-1 Olympique Marseille

Goals: Aubameyang


Disgraced Arsenal legend Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was back among the goals as his spectacularly dinked finish proved the difference between Olympique Marseille and fifth-tier minnows Thionville Lusitanos in the Coupe De France. And that on the day when Arsenal had to wave goodbye to their own dreams of FA Cup glory after succumbing to a shock (but maybe not-so-shock) 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

 

By contrast the Velodrome giants, who last won Ligue 1 in 2009 and still to this day remain the sole French club to win the Champions League, made hard work of this one. Yet without forgetting the very different level of proposition they were up against, at least made it through.

 

Aubameyang grew into this game, like his teammates. Other than charging forward from near the halfway line before seeing his square pass intercepted by Valentin Poinsignion in the box, the Gabon star failed to make an impact in the first 45 minutes

 

Yet following a cagey first period in which the ex-Arsenal star’s performance reflected Marseille’s own difficulties to break down a resilient Thionville side, they were a different beast after the interval.

 

With the game on a knife edge and a humiliation beckoning (Marseille have been no strangers to gifting minnows the tag of giant-killing in France’s FA Cup over the years), talisman Aubameyang stepped up to the plate. Like in his prime in North London when his presence lifted the whole squad, he was in the thick of things, scoring his 13th goal in 25 appearances across all competitions when, released through on goal, he connected well with a ball into space before chipping keeper Theo Junker first-time. He failed to repeat the trick nine minutes later, when he could have pounced on yet another piece of criminal defending by Thionville’s rookie backline. Yet this time his poked chip sailed just wide of the goal.


Late on he rolled a low effort into the goalkeeper’s palms from a promising position. In spite of the fact that he could have had a hat-trick to his name, he was a feast for all the senses and showed goal-shy Arsenal exactly what they are missing in the box. His movement, killer instinct and ability to smell blood are sorely missed on Holloway Road.


Even Marseille head coach Gattuso, who is normally hard to please, turned a blind eye to his pair of missed chances, telling Capital Football: "One can score goals and miss them. I am more angry about how we read the game [in the first period]. Our reading of the game should have been different against a team defending so deeply. Pierre gave us the winning goal. The chief thing is to create and to get there regardless of then missing a chance."

 

The AC Milan legend may have many a selection headache before games but the reborn superstar clearly isn’t one of them.

 

On reflection Aubameyang, who scored a staggering 92 goals in 163 outings for his beloved Gunners, would potentially have been the man to turn them from Premier League contenders to champions last season in the absence of injured ace Gabriel Jesus. The question I'd like to pop to Arteta is: would you re-wield the axe if you had your time again, Mikel?


'Peter Pan' Auba may soon turn 35 but plays like old self 25-year old again. And for Arsenal to rekindle their magic of old he'd have been manna from heaven now.

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