Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued his fine scoring record against Burnley as Arsenal concluded their Premier League season with a 3-1 victory at Turf Moor on Sunday.
The Gabon striker had netted braces in each of his previous two appearances against the Clarets and he repeated that feat to finish the campaign with 22 league goals, level with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the race for the Golden Boot.
In-form Aubameyang, who netted a hat-trick in the Europa League semi-final second leg against Valencia on Thursday, capitalised on Jack Cork’s misplaced pass to race away and slot home his first before a thumping back-post volley put the Gunners in control shortly after the hour.
Ashley Barnes’ header swiftly pulled one back for the hosts but there was to be no equaliser as Eddie Nketiah got his first Premier League goal in stoppage time to ensure Unai Emery’s side ended 2018-19 in fifth, one point adrift of the Champions League places.
Arsenal can still qualify for that competition with victory in the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku later this month – a trophy Emery has already lifted three times.
Aubameyang appeared to have the Golden Boot on his mind early on as he diverted Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s free-kick against the post and stung the palms of Tom Heaton inside seven minutes.
Barnes was denied by Bernd Leno in a lively opening that threatened to boil over when the pair clashed, resulting in a caution for the Burnley man, whose strike partner Chris Wood thumped an effort against the post with the goalkeeper beaten.
Shkodran Mustafi’s superb block thwarted Matt Lowton before Joe Willock fired narrowly wide late in the half but Arsenal were ahead seven minutes after the interval as Cork’s ball evaded Ben Mee and allowed Aubameyang to beat Heaton.
He hammered home Alex Iwobi’s chipped ball to double his tally but within two minutes Johann Gudmundsson dug out a similar cross for Barnes to glance in.
Aubameyang somehow stabbed Mkhitaryan’s low delivery wide from six yards – a miss that cost him the Golden Boot outright – before Nketiah’s deflected effort from a tight angle squirmed through Heaton’s legs and in.
What does it mean? Arsenal’s eggs in the Europa League basket
Realistically, the Gunners were never going to pull off the eight-goal swing needed to overhaul Spurs and secure fourth, but they at least finish the domestic campaign on a high ahead of a final against Chelsea that means so much more than the silverware on offer.
Aubameyang ends with a bang
His two goals were of contrasting nature but both were supremely taken. The only blot on his outing was the glaring late miss that cost him a hat-trick.
Cork error proves costly
The game was in the balance until Cork’s pass put Mee in trouble, and Aubameyang made no mistake.
Arsenal have two-and-a-half weeks to prepare for the Europa League final, while Burnley can look forward to an extended rest after starting this campaign on July 26.
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