Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick led Arsenal to their first win of the new season as West Brom were thrashed 6-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
The Gunners have endured a difficult start to the Premier League campaign, losing to Brentford and Chelsea in succession and increasing pressure on Mikel Arteta.
But the Arsenal manager was rewarded for naming a strong XI at the Hawthorns, where West Brom changed their entire line-up.
Aubameyang scored twice and created a third for Nicolas Pepe in the first half, then completed his treble in style either side of strikes from Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette after the restart.
West Brom enjoyed flurries early in either half but were largely on the back foot and trailed when Saka’s shot was spilled at the feet of Aubameyang.
Martin Odegaard then hit the post from a tight angle, but Aubameyang was on hand again when Arsenal next hit the woodwork, profiting on the rebound from Pepe’s attempt.
Aubameyang turned provider for Pepe when Alex Palmer blocked his route to goal, before Saka added a popular fourth from Odegaard’s flick.
A glorious curling effort from Aubameyang found the top-right corner to cap a fine individual outing, and Arteta introduced Lacazette to get in on the act, arrowing in a cutback from Pepe, who had moments earlier chipped against the crossbar.
What does it mean? Some Arsenal respite at last
For the first time in their history, Arsenal have started a league season with back-to-back defeats without scoring. With Manchester City up next, they badly needed a positive result and a positive performance.
Arteta got both, with the Gunners certainly not lacking a goal threat, scoring six in a match for the first time since 2017 against BATE Borisov.
Captain proves his class
Aubameyang endured his most difficult season in an Arsenal shirt last time out, scoring 15 goals across 39 games – just shy of half his tally from the previous campaign.
But there is no doubt the striker has been missed in the early stages of this season after contracting coronavirus, the Gunners having had 22 attempts without scoring against Brentford.
There were no such issues on Wednesday as Aubameyang scored with three of his four shots and provided an assist following the fourth.
Ramsdale still worked
Debutant Aaron Ramsdale would have enjoyed his first Arsenal outing, keeping a clean sheet while still making four saves.
He required treatment for an apparent shoulder injury in the second half but was passed fit to see out a triumphant bow.
Arsenal will face a far tougher test when they go to Manchester City on Saturday, while West Brom head to Peterborough United later the same day.
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