Arsenal’s Wilshere, Walcott and Debuchy turn back the clock vs. BATE

3 days ago
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Arsenal’s second string hammered a woeful BATE Borisov 6-0 to round off the Europa League group stage in style.

There were five different scorers for the Gunners on the night, with Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Mohamed Elneny all adding to a cracker of an own goal from Denis Polyakov.

An undersized Arsenal crowd enjoyed a good show as Arsenal cruised comfortably into the knockout phase.

Positives

Those Arsenal fans that bothered to show up were treated to a very exciting performance. From the very first minutes of the game, it was clear BATE simply couldn’t live with Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger will take particular delight in the performances of Giroud, Walcott and Wilshere. The roles of all three players have been questioned this season, but they demonstrated their value to the squad tonight.

Negatives

Although the low attendance was understandable given that this was just a meaningless match, it’s a shame the club had not done more to combat the issue-perhaps by offering free tickets to local schools.

It would also be remiss to analyse this game without discussing the quality of the opposition — or lack thereof. BATE were utterly abysmal on the night, and Arsenal essentially had free reign to do as they pleased. As well as some of these players performed, it’s difficult to argue that they’d be able to replicate those displays amid the intensity of the Premier League.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — No injuries, six goals and a clean sheet. Wenger will be satisfied with his night’s work, and can now focus fully on what’s sure to be a crucial festive period in the Premier League.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David Ospina, 7 — Arsenal’s No. 2 can’t have had many easier nights than this during his time in London. Ospina barely broke a sweat.

DF Mathieu Debuchy, 8 — Rattled in the opener for his first goal in three years. It would be wrong to suggest Debuchy has fully rehabilitated his Arsenal career, but the Europa League group stage has afforded him an opportunity to demonstrate some value to the squad. Perhaps his performances have even done enough to attract a buyer in January.

DF Calum Chambers, 7 — The one-time England international made only his second appearance in this competition at the heart of the back four. In truth, he was rarely tested — this was as much an examination of his playmaking ability as his defensive diligence.

DF Rob Holding, 7 — Holding and Chambers are flatmates and great friends off the field, and this was a good opportunity for them to show their merit as a defensive partnership. With Arsenal largely comfortable against BATE, Holding got an opportunity to show his ball-playing skills at the back.

DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 7 — One almost feels a little sorry for Maitland-Niles, who has started every Europa League match, all of which in an unfamiliar position. After playing the majority of games as a left-wing, he started this one as a left-back in an old-school back four. Fortunately, Arsenal’s dominance allowed him to push on and join up in their attacking play.

MF Mohamed Elneny, 8 — The Egyptian international almost opened the scoring in the first few minutes, but his low shot struck the post. His ability to distribute the ball simply and effectively helped keep Arsenal’s tempo high, and he scored his first Emirates Stadium goal with a terrific curled strike.

MF Francis Coquelin, 8 — The former Charlton loanee has had a difficult 2017-18 season, but like many Arsenal players he had a good night against BATE. At one point, he pulled off an outrageous flicked pass off the outside of his right boot. When Coquelin is successfully attempting tricks like that, you know it’s your night.

MF Jack Wilshere, 9 — This was probably Wilshere’s most impressive performance of the season so far. It wasn’t just his goal — a thumped left-footed effort that gave the ‘keeper no chance. It was his all-round play: he constantly demanded the ball, driving at the defence at every available opportunity. Wilshere was simply too good for BATE.

FW Theo Walcott, 9 — There has been speculation about Walcott’s future this week, but he didn’t look remotely distracted in a fine performance. The captain might have had a first half hat trick, with his well-taken goal sandwiched by a remarkable save and a goal-line clearance. He also managed to create three goals for his teammates before being withdrawn.

FW Danny Welbeck, 6 — The England forward was still showing some signs of ring rust, and was lucky when Walcott tucked home after he had squandered a great counter-attacking opportunity. At the start of the season, Welbeck looked like a real first-team contender, but he’s some way from that level right now.

FW Olivier Giroud, 8 — The target man had an enjoyable evening against BATE, showing off his full array of flicks and tricks to bring fluency to the forward line. He eventually got his goal too, scoring from the penalty spot (twice, after his first effort had to be retaken).

Substitutes

FW Reiss Nelson, NR — Came on for Walcott (71) for a rare opportunity to impress in an attacking role.

MF Joe Willock, NR — Replaced Elneny (77) but did not make much of an impact.

FW Eddie Nketiah, NR — Introduced for Welbeck (77) but could not recreate his Carabao Cup heroics.

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