Alex Iwobi Scores, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Bags Brace As Gunners Give Arsene Wenger The Perfect Send-Off At The Emirates Stadium

The forward (left) is congratulated by Hector Bellerin (centre) and Aubameyang after increasing his team's advantage 

Celebration engulfed the sadness on a very strange day at Arsenal as Arsene Wenger bid farewell to the Emirates Stadium with five goals and a whirl of conflicting emotions.

Arsenal summoned precisely the sort of vintage display which has eluded them in a season of underachievement and fans packed the place out and rejoiced in the sunshine.

Wenger sat in his seat and listened to his name ringing around the rafter of a stadium he inspired, part of his vision for the club he joined in 1996 and watched his players performing with the freedom which has eluded them.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring and Alexander Lacazette made it 2-0 before half-time.

Sead Kolasinac slammed in the third, a sweet strike from an angle. Alex Iwobi scored the fourth, Aubameyang the fifth and Danny Welbeck rattled the woodwork in the closing stages.

Arsenal were slick and creative against Burnley, a team with a strong defensive record away from Turf Moor, this season.

Even without the goals, and without Mesut Ozil, who was absent with a back problem, the home crowd seemed to be drunk on the occasion.

Alex Iwobi (left) scores his side's fourth goal of the Premier League game after playing a one-two with Aubameyang

Kolasinac (right) celebrates Jack Wilshere (left) and Aubameyang after bagging his fifth goal of the season

Iwobi celebrates after in front of the Arsenal supporters after bagging his third goal of the season in the 64th minute

Arsene Wenger was given an emotional send-off at the beginning of his last home game as Arsenal manager

Both sets of players formed a guard of honour for the 68-year-old to walk through prior to kick-off at the Emirates Stadium 

Fans rose in the first half to applaud as Konstantinos Mavropanos, a 20-year-old centre-half signed in January from PAS Giannina in Greece and making his home debut, flattened Burnley striker Sam Vokes and conceded a free-kick.

Having cheered the physical contact, those near to the press box turned to the salute Martin Keown, who was on duty for BBC radio with a chorus of: ‘There’s only one Keown’. Smiling, Keown raised a fist.

Mavropanos tried to give them more of what they clearly craved. When the next high ball came his way, he collided again with Vokes, clashing heads and the game stopped as the medics were beckoned once again.

Arsenal were already one goal up and Ashley Barnes was receiving treatment having hurt himself in the act of flattening Granit Xhaka from behind.

Xhaka rolled around too and Per Mertesacker was sent to warm up, triggering a red wave of home fans climbing to their feet to hail the ‘Big f***ing German’, who is about to end his playing career and take up a role in charge of the club’s academy.

Then they demanded a wave from Wenger, who obliged, briefly raising a hand but he must have found it bewildering after years of protests.

For the first time in months, there was barely a spare seat as supporters returned to say thank you and goodbye and pulled on the free tee-shirts, emblazoned with the slogan ‘Merci Arsene’.

The Wenger Outs and the Arsene Knows factions united in appreciation and the two teams formed a guard of honour.

The Arsenal boss emerged to a cheer, raised his hands in recognition, paced through the two lines of players and shook hands with a few people before performing a brisk u-turn, removing his jacket and settling down beside Steve Bould on the bench.

In his programme notes, he said he expected this day, “the end of a long story” to be “dominated by sadness” but this was a theatre of happiness.

Jack Wilshere, who may also be appearing for the last time as an Arsenal player at the Emirates, came off to warm applause.

Mertesacker came on to a boisterous roar, took the armband and his every touch was cheered.

It felt like the Tony Adams moment against Everton in 1998 when Arsenal celebrated the Double at the end of Wenger’s first full season in charge.

Tired of the present, they hailed the past and looked ahead to a brighter future. Merci Arsene.


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