December 5, 2022

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Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opens up on malaria battle ahead of crunch Villarreal clash

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Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has opened up on his battle against malaria and has warned Villarreal he is ready to get going from the start in the crunch Europa League clash.

Arsenal must overturn a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of their semi-final tie against Unai Emery’s men at the Emirates on Thursday evening as the Gunners look to book their spot in their second Europa League final in three seasons.

And they have been given the huge boost with Aubameyang almost back to full fitness – as he started and scored in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle in the Premier League.

Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has admitted he is nearly back to full fitness

The Arsenal star was hospitalised after contracting the killer disease malaria on international duty but he has since admitted that he has almost fully recovered physically, and is ready to start for the second time in five days.

On asked how he is feeling ahead of Thursday’s massive European clash in north London, Aubameyang replied: ‘I would say 90%.’

On whether he is ready to start, the Gabonese striker added: ‘Yeah definitely yes. When it’s important like this of course. In my mind I feel more than 100% but yeah for sure physically I’m not 100%.’

Aubameyang missed four games as he battled with malaria, including the thumping 4-0 second leg win at Slavia Prague that saw the Gunners progress to the Europa League semi-final.

Aubameyang was hospitalised after contracting malaria on international duty with Gabon

Aubameyang was hospitalised after contracting malaria on international duty with Gabon

Aubameyang was hospitalised after contracting malaria on international duty with Gabon

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His illness marked what has been an extremely tough season for him both on and off the pitch, and the 31-year-old has admitted he had never been so sick before in his life.

‘I was feeling very, very bad,’ Aubameyang added. ‘This was the worst moment of being sick in my life.

‘I was three days in a row with fever, all day and all night. Even the paracetamol had no affect on this. I think I lost four kilos. My family was scared to see me like this.’

Prior to his malaria setback, Aubameyang had been struggling for goals all season – he only has 15 in 35 matches across all competitions for Mikel Arteta’s men.

His goal return is way off his previous seasons in north London, and Aubameyang has come in for criticism at times.

The striker returned to the starting line-up against Newcastle and got on the scoresheet

The striker returned to the starting line-up against Newcastle and got on the scoresheet

The striker returned to the starting line-up against Newcastle and got on the scoresheet

Sky Sports punditry duo Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were brutal in their assessment of Arsenal following their 3-0 home defeat against Liverpool at the beginning of April, with the latter suggesting that the Gunners could find themselves with another ‘Mesut Ozil situation’ in Aubameyang.

And the Arsenal skipper has admitted that it has hurt at times but is focused on silencing his critics ahead of what could still be a successful end to the season with glory in Europe.

On the criticism, Aubameyang said: ‘To tell the truth sometimes when you see that it hurts of course because I’m a human being but this is part of football and you have to accept sometimes. 

‘This season has been difficult. Everyone was expecting me to score more goals I know it. Maybe I feel a bit responsible for the situation we are in right now. But we have a chance to change it.’ 

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