Arsenal hit BATE Borisov for six to end group stage in style
Europa League Group H, Emirates Stadium – Arsenal 6 (Debuchy 11’, Walcott 37’, Wilshere 43’, Polyakov 52’ (OG), Giroud 64’ (P), Elneny 74’) BATE Borisov 0
Arsenal scored six against BATE Borisov on Thursday evening to end their Europa League group stage in style.
BATE Borisov, who have conceded 10 goals to Arsenal in this season’s Europa League, rarely ventured forward in front of a threadbare crowd at the Emirates. And at the back, Belarusian centre-backs Dzianis Polyakov and Nemanja Milunovic struggled to contain the constant threat posed by Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott, as Arsene Wenger made eleven changes from the defeat to Manchester United on the weekend.
Mathieu Debuchy broke the deadlock with his first goal in nearly three years, hitting a powerful shot across goal moments after Walcott was felled with a strong penalty claim.
Mathieu Debuchy of Arsenal celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the UEFA Europa League group H match between Arsenal FC and BATE Borisov at Emirates Stadium on December 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.Getty Images
As the home side dominated possession and attacked relentlessly, Walcott took advantage of the space and time he was offered on the BATE six-yard box, by pouncing on a loose ball for the second of the night.
Wilshere was in exceptional form, often dictating the Arsenal attack and frequently threatening to score his first Arsenal goal since 2015. He did so just before the break, with a powerful 15-yard strike that came courtesy of some excellent service from Walcott.
Wilshere was involved again in the fourth goal, as his defence-splitting pass found Theo Walcott, whose cross was awkwardly turned into the net for a Polyakov own-goal.
Walcott earned a penalty shortly after the hour mark, which was dispatched by Giroud at the second time of asking. The referee spotted encroachment when the French striker converted the first attempt.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates scoring their second goalGetty Images
Mohamed Elneny wrapped up a magnificent display with a sublime first-time curling finish. Once again, it was Wilshere at the heart of the action, providing the assist.
BATE managed a few speculative efforts, but were ultimately not aggressive enough to make an impact on an Arsenal side who will advance to the knockout phase with confidence.
Will Jack Wilshere earn a permanent spot in the Arsenal XI? Wilshere was in superb form, with his goal and assist giving only a glimpse of his overall contribution. But has he earned a spot in the regular Arsenal side? Will he feature for Gareth Southgate’s national team this summer?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) The English midfielder was the beating heart of an Arsenal side with many other fine performances, often conducting the attacking movements and offering several dangerous shots on goal.
Arsenal's English midfielder Jack Wilshere (C) scores the team's third goal during the Europa League Group H stage football match between Arsenal and Bate Borisov at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 7, 2017.Getty Images
BATE Borisov - Scherbitski 6, Berezkin 6, Ivanić 6, Rios 6, Milunović 6, Rodionov 5, Dragun 5, Stasevich 5, Polyakov 5, Volodko 6, Gordeichuk 6. Subs: Yablonski 6, Signevich 5, Tyominen 6.
11 - GOAL! Walcott goes down in the box and has a strong penalty claim, but the ref plays advantage as Debuchy strikes the ball from the right-side of the area. It's an absolutely magnificent hit!
37 - GOAL! Danny Welbeck beats a defender in the box and Polyakov intercepts, only for the ball to fall to Walcott. He has plenty of space to slot in the second!
43 - GOAL! Wilshere gets the goal he deserves! Walcott finds Wilshere on the edge of the area, he takes one touch and blasts a powerful shot from 15 yards!
Arsenal's English midfielder Jack Wilshere (C) celebrates with teammates, scoring the team's third goal during the Europa League Group H stage football match between Arsenal and Bate Borisov at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 7, 2017.Getty Images
52 - GOAL! It's a terrible own goal for Polyakov. Wilshere splits the defence with a wonderful pass to Walcott on the right. His cross finds Polyakov, whose clearance ends up in the net.
64 - GOAL! Giroud converts the penalty on the second time of asking, although the 'keeper got a hand to it.74 - GOAL! It's a beauty from Elneny! Wilshere receives the ball at the top of the box, looks up and passes to the Egyptian on the left side of the area. He hits a wonderful first-time left-footed curled shot past the 'keeper.
This is the sixth occasion on which Arsenal have scored six or more goals in European competition.
BATE have only won two of their last 21 European away games.
Debuchy's goal was Arsenal's 100th of 2017.