Arsenal: Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Elneny, Wilshere, Welbeck, Walcott, Giroud
Subs: Macey, Sheaf, Nelson, Reine-Adelaide, Nketiah, Willock, Akpom
Arsenal finished their Europa League group stage with a flourish as goals from Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Owen G’Oal, Olivier Giroud, and Mohamed Elneny gave them a 6-0 win over BATE Borisov at the Emirates this evening.
In front of what was the smallest ever crowd at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger shifted formation to a back four, deploying Debuchy and Maitland-Niles at full back with Holding and Chambers the central defensive pairing.
The Gunners had the first chance on goal, with Mohamed Elneny scuffing a shot against the post in the second minute, with Ivanic cracking a shot over the bar in response.
It wasn’t long until the scoring was opened though and it came through an unlikely source. The ball broke to Debuchy after it looked like Walcott had been fouled in the box, and the Frenchman cracked a low rising shot beyond the keeper and into the far corner of the net. 1-0.
Maitland-Niles crossed for Giroud who headed over under pressure, before Volodko picked up a yellow card for a crude challenge on Debuchy. The Borisov keeper came out of goal and denied Welbeck after he’d been put through by Wilshere, and he had to be alert to prevent an own goal when one of his own chaps headed back towards his own goal that wasn’t an own goal, if you see what I mean.
The keeper was excellent again coming out quickly to save with his feet from a point-blank Walcott, and the England man tried his luck from a free kick, shooting low and beyond the far post.
The 28 year old didn’t have to wait too long to get his goal though, firing in from close range after Welbeck ignored him, overran it, and then saw the ball deflect into his teammate’s path. 2-0.
Walcott was then denied a second by a superb clearance off the line by Steve, and the keeper pulled off another good save, palming a Wilshere curler over the bar. He too wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet, picking up a pass from Walcott, stepping inside the defender and lashing a shot across the keeper and into the net to make it 3-0, a lead the Gunners took into the break.
There were no changes at half-time, and just six minutes in the lead was extended. Wilshere set Walcott free down the right, he took it on, and his low cross – which was aimed for Welbeck at the back post – was turned into his own net by the defender to make the score 4-0.
Welbeck seemed determined to get in on the action, cutting inside and slamming a shot on target which the keeper saved with his face. Giroud curled a curler over the bar, and then Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Walcott was fouled by Fred.
Giroud stepped up and put the ball in the net but was made retake it by the referee because of encroachment. He made no mistake with his second attempt, and although the keeper got a hand to it, he couldn’t keep it out and it was 5-0 Arsenal.
Some Borisov lad whacked a shot over the bar, Chambers blocked another shot, and then some other fella got a shot on target but it was straight at the unworked Ospina. There was another chance for them at the back post, before Arsene Wenger made his first chance, bringing on Reiss Nelson for Walcott in the 70th minute.
Elneny made it 6-0 with a beautiful curling effort wuth 74 minutes gone, lovely work from Wilshere set up the Egyptian and the finish was first class to provide him with only his second goal for the club. It was his last action of the night as he then came off with Welbeck to make space for Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah.
Some bloke shot wide with Ospina scrambling across his goal, another chap spooned one over the bar in a manner which suggested he’d made his own spoon hewn from a piece of wood he’d found beside a lake, and the Arsenal keeper had to make a save at last as the game entered 2 minutes of injury time.
In the end Arsenal’s biggest win of the season, and we now wait until Monday to find out who our group stage opponents will be.