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Man of the Match Nelson, Man of the Moment Giroud -As Gunners win in Belarus

100 Not Out

BATE Borizov 2-4 Arsenal

Europa League

28th September 2017

 

Arsenal haven’t played much in Belarus before. BATE Borizov are the long-running champions of Belarus, and narrowly missed out of Champions League qualification. They have however played and done well vs. Bayern Munich amongst others in previous seasons. So whilst it was not going to be an easy task, we did think going to unfamiliar grounds/teams was a silver lining in the Europa League cloud, right?

As suspected, Wenger played a weakened team, with a mix of experienced players and youngsters. It proved to work, as it was in some ways the same old Arsenal. The team looked slick, passed the ball well, and scored some good goals. However, the defence was as poor as it has been in other games this season, with lapses in concentration and organisation apparent.

First half

Arsenal were 3-1 up by half-time, with Walcott scoring a brace and Rob Holding scoring also. Arsenal looked very sharp in this period, with Walcott’s pace and finishing being too much for the BATE defence. The link up play and vision of Wilshere’s passing was again clearly an influence as he returns to match fitness.

The younger players like Nelson and Maitland-Niles also looked very strong, and it seemed they were taking to this new setting very well. Willock, whose brother incidentally is playing for Benfica, looked good also.

Overall, even with a weakened team, Arsenal were very good, and looked as resolute in front of goal as ever.

Great work by Jack and a finish by Theo

Second half

The half commenced with a penalty to Arsenal, which was unexpected and possibly moot. Mustafi was being held by the BATE defenders, though the contact was seemingly slight. Nonetheless, Olivier Giroud scored the spot-kick, resulting in his 100th goal for Arsenal.

At 4-1 up, Arsenal were cruising, and passing the ball well in all areas. However, BATE got a second goal due to a defensive error. Mertesacker didn’t really tackle for the ball well enough, leading to a parry by Ospina, and a goal from the follow-up. It was, to use the point again, “same old Arsenal”.

From this point, BATE looked more confident though didn’t have much clear-cut opportunities to score. Arsenal still looked pretty dangerous going forward, but then we couldn’t convert despite chances to Nketiah, Walcott, and Giroud.

Impressions/ratings

Overall, it was a comfortable game, though lessened by some weak defending in parts. The young players passed the ball well, and it seems Wenger is continuing his long-held practice of developing good young talent.

Ospina 6, Mustafi 5, Mertesacker 5, Holding 7

Wilshere looked OK in the midfield, supported by Elneny, Nelson, and Willock. Part of the reason for Arsenal’s early dominance was due to the creativity expressed here.

Willock 6, Nelson 7, Wilshere 6, Elneny 6, Maitland-Niles 6

Giroud did well to score his penalty, but Walcott was very able to score his brace.

Giroud 7, Walcott 7

GT MOTM

Man of the Match – Reiss Nelson. Reiss Nelson is emerging as one of the best young English talents at the moment, and we should be all keen to see him develop. The Europa League could be the proper proving ground for him to exhibit his strengths and talents, coupled with the experience from playing foreign opposition.

Man of the Moment

Honourable mention – Olivier Giroud.

Giroud is often maligned, though unfairly in my mind. He scored his 100th goal for Arsenal in this game, and to get to this milestone, which Henry, Wright, Bergkamp, Smith, etc. all did, is a grand achievement. Giroud is not perhaps at the Suarez, Neymar, Benzema, or Aguero levels, but he has scored goals consistently in France and England, and for his country to good success. Criticism of him is unjust, and he may not be amongst Henry and Wright as the two best strikers in Arsenal’s history. But he has contributed his fair share, worked hard, and attained a lot for himself as a striker.

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2 Responses to Man of the Match Nelson, Man of the Moment Giroud -As Gunners win in Belarus

  1. Victor Thompson September 29, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    Sorry, I can`t agree with this review. I am delighted to say that for me, Jack Wilshire was head and shoulders above anyone else. He was in the middle of the game and controlled much of what went on. He was sandwiched between Niles and Willock, with Elneny as support and too often the inexperience of Niles and Willock meant that he was often the only man in midfield. As good as Elneny was against Doncaster, he had a nightmare last night. He was slow. His touch was bad and in the second half he could hardly muster a decent run. I think two full matches with less than 3 days between them was too much for him. I like Elneny, but this was his worst performance for us.

    Ospina did not inspire confidence, probably because of a leaky defence in front of him, but he should have done better with their first goal.

    Nelson was good and showed promise. His talent is obvious, but lets not get carried away. His positional play was a bit dodgy but he did scare their left back. Niles tired visibly and became sloppy in the second half and Willock was pretty average throughout. They can be excused because of immaturity, but they are nowhere near full team selection. Mertesecker was his usual self. His performance can almost be guaranteed and you know what you get from him. Mustafi was still a bit rash and untidy.

    Now, to my man of the match; Jack is trying to come back to what he was. even on his 1 year with Bournemouth, injury dogged him and Bournemouth did not retain him for another year. He has been training and working hard to regain full fitness and he has shown glimpses of his past glory recently. He was full of class against Doncaster and played his first 90 minutes this season.

    last night, he looked a little bit portly but his bursts of speed were coming back. What did shine was his touch and his passing. He was an example to all the youngsters in his attitude. He mixed it in midfield. I lost count of the times that he got the ball in close conditions and turned defence into attack, and his rapier thrusts into Bates` defence caused havoc. It was reminiscent of his glory days when he and Ramsey took defences in the box apart. Sadly Giroud was not at his best and perhaps because of lack of match time, he was not sharp enough to play off him.

    Unsurprisingly, Jack could not keep the tempo of the first half going but he was there for the 90 minutes. Definitely on the way back.

    Walcott was also his usual self. against an inferior team, he was able to utilise his speed and his sharpness in front of goal, but does he do it against the big teams?

    • Marble Halls TV September 30, 2017 at 8:14 am #

      I like Jack, but then Nelson stood out for me. I respect your view though since it is good to see Wilshere try and get back in the team.

      I think he may play some time in Brighton game also.

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