Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back to his normal self after registering his first Premier League hat-trick in Arsenal's 4-2 win over Leeds.
Aubameyang, played through the middle on Sunday, now has five goals in his last four Premier League appearances, more than he had scored in his previous 16 games, and after a difficult season at the Emirates, is rediscovering the form that made him Arsenal's key man in previous years.
And his manager Arteta says Aubameyang has shown both in training and on the pitch that he is back to his best, and that the 31-year-old holds the key to Arsenal's success going forward.
"I thought he was superb today," said Arteta. "He's been training really good the last week or so, he was back to normal, he looked really committed in training, really hungry. And I think today he had a great performance, not just for the goals but the amount of pressure he put on every Leeds defender.
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"I am delighted for him, he deserved it. We know that's a big part of our future success is related to Auba being at his best and scoring as many goals as possible. If he is in that type of form, we are going to be closer to winning football matches, that is clear.
"We cannot just rely on him, but he is a big piece of our puzzle. And you could see that today that when he is firing he is a difficult player to play against."
Asked why he decided to play Aubameyang in the No 9 slot, Arteta said: "We have the option depending on the game, the opponent. I thought he could be a good option today, and it worked well."
Arteta also had praise for Martin Odegaard, the January loan signing from Real Madrid, who made his first Arsenal start on Sunday.
"Big credit to him to play his first Premier League start against Leeds after not playing a lot of football in the last three months," said the Arsenal boss on Sky Sports.
"To run the way he did, how comfortable and creative he was on the ball and the personality he showed in the game was great.
"The amount of chances we created and the type of goals we scored today really pleased me. The attacking patterns we had today, the confidence that the team had against a team that is constantly pressing you to be comfortable to get out of this situation. Overall, a lot of positives."
Analysis: Aubameyang makes case for central role
Sky Sports' Nick Wright:
Aubameyang's best position has been a subject of some debate in recent seasons. The 31-year-old has been outstanding at times when used on the left flank. But there has always been the lingering feeling that he belongs in the middle and this is why.
The headline statistic, of course, is that he scored three goals. But it is also worth noting that Aubameyang recorded his highest total of shots in a Premier League game this season (five) and his highest total of touches in the opposition box (nine) too.
His first came from that left-sided position he has come to call his own in the last couple of seasons but the third - headed home from inside the six-yard box - is the kind he doesn't score enough of when starting games out wide.
Aubameyang struggled in the central striking role when used there earlier this season, failing to find the net in a run of four consecutive starts in the position between November and December.
But with the youthful energy, clever movement and abundant creativity offered by Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard behind him, it is surely worth keeping him there now.
'Auba a proper player'
Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, Graeme Souness believes Aubameyang's run of poor form was something all strikers go through, and that the Arsenal skipper is still the real deal.
"He's had one of those periods that strikers go through, but he's a proper player. His stats tell you that," said Souness. "For some strange reason, he wasn't scoring the goals this year.
"But I expect that will be the starting point for him now. I imagine he will go on and score a lot of goals this season."
Arsenal now face Benfica in the Europa League round of 32 first leg on Thursday at 8pm, before hosting Man City on Super Sunday at 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Leeds now go to Wolves in the Premier League on Friday night at 8pm, before hosting Southampton on Tuesday February 23 at 6pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.