The second string Arsenal side battered visiting BATE Borisov 6-0 last night at the Emirates to wrap up the group stage of 2017/18 Europa League. The Gunners didn’t need to break sweat to see off the champions from Hleb’s Belarus. Goals from Debuchy, Walcott, Wilshere, Giroud, Elneny and an own goal gave Arsenal the win.
Ospina was in goal and Wenger opted for four at the back – Debuchy, Holding, Chambers and Maitland-Niles. Coquelin and Elneny were in the middle with Wilshere operating behind the front trio of Welbeck, Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
We take a look at three things from the game.
Goals and Landmarks
While Welbeck failed to find the net, Debuchy’s opener for the night was Arsenal’s 100th in 2017. It was Debuchy’s first competitive goal for Arsenal in over a thousand days – 1082 days to be precise. Jack Wilshere was at his best and capped it with a goal – his first since May 2015. Will that earn him a Three Lions invite? Is there any better than him in the Three Lions?
The 6-0 bashing was Wenger’s 700th win for Arsenal after 1199 games with a win rate of 58.4%. It was also the 6th time the Gunners scored 6+ in Europe.
Back Four or Three
Wenger opted for four at the back last night and they were not breached. Ospina made a couple of saves towards the end of the game but was mostly feeling bored at the back with little or no bite from BATE. It is unsure whether the decision to switch to the back four was due to the level of opposition or the lessons learnt from the 3-1 loss to Manchester United where Wenger switched to a back four at 2-0.
Irrespective of whether it was a back three or four, Holding and Chambers kept their cool against the visitors. Coquelin was free – he had some moments of good ball distribution, one of which was not converted by Welbeck but tucked in by Theo Walcott.
Eddie and the young gang were brought into the fray but they didn’t do much to make the scoreline more than 6-0. Eddie Nketiah had his bust of pace but the end point were not found. Joe Willock and Nelson did their part. They featured in all of the 6 group games. Will they be allowed to continue by next year in the knock out phases? Will Wenger still rely on the second string side?
Sad to see Chuba Akpom not getting any game time in the team. I have a soft spot for the Nigerian. He was in the scene before Iwobi but the latter is now a full fledged international.
Through to the round of 32, Arsenal could face one of the following teams: Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Celtic, Spartak Moscow, Astana, Partizan Belgrade, Ludogorets, AEK Athens, Lyon, FC Copenhagen, Steaua Bucharest, Marseille, Ostersunds, Nice, Real Sociedad.
The toughest should be Borussia Dortmund and Napoli. By Monday, Arsenal would know their opponents but will wait till February 15 before returning to the Europa League.
For now, Southampton is next.
Oh, there was the small matter of the boring Ballon d’Or 2017 presentation last night. Ronaldo was crowned for the 5th time – equaling Messi’s record.