The Gabonese frontman was included from the off against Newcastle – his first start in a month – with a bout of malaria now shaken off

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admits he was “dying a little bit” after making his first Arsenal start in a month, but the Gunners captain is relieved to have ended a six-game goal drought.

The 31-year-old frontman was back in Mikel Arteta’s starting XI for a Premier League clash with Newcastle, with the Gabon international now fully recovered from a bout of malaria.

Illness had restricted him to a bit-part role at Emirates Stadium over recent weeks, but 78 useful minutes were taken in at St James’ Park ahead of a crucial Europa League semi-final clash with Villarreal on Thursday.

What has been said?

Aubameyang told reporters of making a first start since April 3: “At the end for the last five minutes I was dying a little bit. But to tell the truth, I felt good the whole game so I was really happy with that. 

“I have to say that the doctors did incredible work with me, bringing me to the hospital and stuff like that. I’m really thankful for them.”

Back among the goals

A productive outing on Tyneside for Aubameyang also saw him find the back of the net.

He doubled Arsenal’s advantage on the day, in a comfortable 2-0 win, with the target found for the first time since securing a 1-1 draw with Burnley on March 6.

On that effort, the Gunners skipper said: “I have to say, when you are out for a few weeks you realise how good it is to be back on the pitch. 

“I was really happy to be back first and scoring a goal.”

The bigger picture

Arsenal Aubameyang Olympiacos

Arsenal Aubameyang Olympiacos

With Aubameyang rediscovering form and fitness, Arsenal will be eager to see him kick on from here.

Games are running out for the Gunners, with only four more left to take in domestically this season, but there is plenty riding on a sprint to the finish.

European qualification remains up for grabs, while continental glory is still there to be shot at.

Arteta’s men are now fully focused on a meeting with Villarreal that will require them to overturn a 2-1 deficit on home soil in order to book a place in a major final and a shot at silverware.

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