Arsenal: Ospina, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Holding, Nelson, Willock, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, Walcott, Giroud
Subs: Macey, McGuane, Dragomir, Gilmour, Akpom, Nketiah, Dasilva
Arsenal notched up their second Europa League win in succession with a 4-2 win over BATE Borisov tonight.
Arsene Wenger handed a full debut to Joe Willock in the centre of midfield, choosing to use Jack Wilshere in the front three, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson were deployed as wing-backs.
The 17 year old was involved in the Gunners first good move of the game some intricate passing which saw Theo Walcott hit the post, and then skew the rebound over the bar.
The England international’s frustration didn’t last too long as he made the most of his next chance, heading a great Wilshere run and cross on target and although the keeper got a hand to it he poked it home home to make sure as it was crossing the line. 1-0.
The combination almost worked in reverse a few minutes later when Walcott squared for Wilshere but what would have been a beautifully worked goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside.
At the other end Ivanic fired a shot wide from just outside the box, but the home side shot themselves in the foot after a terrible mistake from the BATE keeper, passing the ball straight to Walcott. The 28 year old took a touch and drilled the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
It was almost three when Wilshere played in Maitland-Niles and his cross for Giroud was hacked away as the Frenchman wound up for his shot on goal. Once again, they didn’t have long to wait to make up for the near miss, as Rob Holding poked home his first Arsenal goal from the resulting corner. 3-0.
There was a warning that the game was far from over though, as BATE got one back just two minutes later. Ivanic’s header was powerful, but Ospina was found wanting as the ball flew past him to make the score 3-1.
The Colombian made a superb save from a close range header, but the flag had gone up for an offside, and once again Ivanic proved the home side’s danger man as he forced the Arsenal stopper into another save just after the half hour mark.
Giroud got a header on target as he sought his 100th Arsenal goal but couldn’t get enough power to trouble the keeper, and Walcott was inches away from a hat-trick as his goalbound effort was deflected just wide by the fingertips of the keeper. Holding almost had a second from the corner when a shot on the turn rebounded back off the post.
BATE were lucky not to be down to 10 men when one of their chaps clearly whacked Willock in the face with his forearm, but instead of a sending off the referee gave them a free kick and allowed them to kick Arsenal players without any real punishment. Nevertheless, Arsenal took the two goal lead into the break after what was a solid first half performance.
There were no changes for the second half, and four minutes in Arsenal were awarded a somewhat generous penalty for a foul on Mustafi. It gave Giroud a chance to score get to the 100 goal mark, and the Frenchman made no mistake, slotting home and sending the keeper the wrong way at the same time. 4-1.
It should have been five less than 60 seconds later but when Walcott had the opportunity to provide Wilshere with a one on one chance, he hesitated and ended up robbed by the defender.
The referee, we assume some work experience guy, continued to ignore blatant fouls on Arsenal players, and a BATE free kick caused problems, the ball skidding through and Ospina got good hands to a very close range flick before Mertesacker cleared the ball out for a goal kick via an opponent’s face.
A long range effort from Rios curled not that far wide in the 63rd minute, and the hosts got another one back after a fortuitous bounce in the box saw the ball rebound off Ospina and straight to Gordeichuk who smashed the ball into the net from close range. Again you’d want your keeper to do better. 4-2.
The Arsenal keeper was off his line to punch away as they looked to cause more danger, and Volodko should have made it 4-3 when the ball fell to him on the penalty spot after Mustafi over-committed but he side-footed high and wide when he ought to have scored.
There were further chances, Ospina had to make a near post save, and some dude had a long-range effort, before Arsene Wenger made his first change of the night handing a debut to Marcus McGuane who came on in place of Reiss Nelson with 12 minutes to go.
Giroud tried an audacious chip from 30 yards but his attempt was just too high, before Walcott wasted a great chance to get a shot on target or set-up Willock for a tap in to seal the game.
Mustafi had to defend a low cross in the final five minutes, some twat got booked for a foul on Giroud as we looked to break, and then some other bloke clumped a cross over the Arsenal bar when he really should have put the ball into a dangerous area.
Eddie Nketiah came on for the impressive Willock in the 88th minute, and could have marked his appearance with a goal but his mistimed his run and was given offside as the game went into injury time.
In the end a fun game, some promising performances, and a good result for what was a very makeshift Arsenal side.