Arsenal 3-0 BATE Borisov – Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg Review (Agg. 3-1)
After last week’s debacle, we comfortably progressed to the next round after a good win vs. BATE at home.
I’m left thinking “how the hell did we lose to them last week?!”
I attended in person, with some views below:
And the attendance given the unusual time was fair. I’d cite 40,000 or so attended, and it may have been higher had the kick-off been more traditionally-timed.
But the starting line-up seemed fair. Ozil came back, and it was a reversion to 4231, after the three at the back in recent games. Lacazette was suspended but it was pretty much a strong side, and to be expected as we had no other games recently.
Overall, we were fairly comfortable in this game.
BATE had a few chances, but other than that didn’t really threaten that much. This was a consistent pattern over both halves. We started well enough, and had some quick early chances via Iwobi, Auba, and Xhaka. However, Auba did well on the right, and from his cross the BATE player Vulkov scored an own-goal and the tie was level.
Ozll hit a volley over the bar, and Xhaka forced a good save from their keeper. We were pushing at their goal well, and the pace and tricks of Iwobi, and the crossing of Lichtsteiner was causing them many problems.
We got the second from Mustafi – who has been much maligned lately, but did well to find space from a corner.
The second half followed the same pattern, and Sokratis like his defensive partner Mustafi scored from a header from a corner.
Iwobi, Auba, and Guendouzi went close, but at this point it was comfortable. BATE had a chance, akin to the first half, where Cech had to save. But overall, it was on to the round of 16, and a potentially harder tie featuring a Spanish, Italian, or German side. Inter vs. Arsenal? Sevilla vs. Arsenal? RB Leipzig vs. Arsenal? Maybe, but we’ll see.
This was a professional performance, where we dominated possession, created numerous chances, and just held more quality over BATE.
How we lost the first leg, considering this level of dominion displayed, is baffling. Granted, it doesn’t matter now. But then all games should be methodically approached. Our attitude in Belarus was deficient, though we are fine for rectifying it now.
Ozil’s return was a good one. Though John Cross of the Daily Mirror stated he was poor. I don’t agree. I believe he had some good passes and movement and was looking to be active on the game when required. He has a point to prove, though I believe there is more behind the scenes going on here that fans aren’t privy too.
Aubameyang was good, though as per much of the season hasn’t been playing in his optimum position. He did do well get the first goal assist, even though it was an own goal.
Mustafi scored, and had a reasonable game overall. But he continues his enigmatic status, and for this reason he may still need to transfer away.
Mkhitaryan was muted, and I’m not really warmed to him. His technical prowess is fine. But his end product is weak. He doesn’t contribute much generally, and yes he scores goals, but is not fully effective as a creative force.
Guendouzi did well, and Xhaka was able to pass forward and make both long and short through balls.
The away leg may have just been an off day. But we showed the guile to defeat the opposition easily.
An elephant in the room here is Ozil. Would we have won the away leg had he played? Who knows? The nature of the relationship between him and Emery, and if the board are pushing him out, are moot. Even still, Ozil can strengthen his hand if he can play well and work hard. And contribute effectively more consistently.
We can win this competition. Napoli, Inter, Sevilla, and Chelsea, would all offer stiff tests, but nothing that’s insurmountable.
Cech – 6
Lichtsteiner – 7
Mustafi – 6
Koscielny – 6
Monreal – 6
Guendouzi – 7
Xhaka – 6
Iwobi – 7
Mkhitaryan – 4
Ozil – 7
Aubameyang – 6
Sokratis – 7
Torreira – 6
Suarez – 5
Man of the match – Alex Iwobi
Our incisiveness in the first half was pretty much down to Alex. He showed the skills, trickery, and guile, to open up BATE and create some telling chances.