Arsenal cruised to victory over BATE Borisov in their final Europa League group game as Arsene Wenger’s fringe players made another case for Premier League involvement.
With top spot in Group H already assured, the Gunners made light work of the Belarusian champions in front of a record-low Emirates Stadium crowd.
While the official figure was 54,648 it is understood less than 30,000 fans were present to see Arsenal run riot with an emphatic and easy 6-0 win.
Mathieu Debuchy’s second goal for the club got the ball rolling before Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere netted with a Denis Polyakov own goal, an Olivier Giroud penalty and a fine Mohamed Elneny strike wrapping things up.
What they said
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “You can say the opponent was not at the level of the Premier League and I would agree with you but you can only do your job and that’s what we did, in a convincing way with remarkable spirit and finished well the job in this group stage. It’s true that you prefer the ground to be full, but tonight there was not a lot at stake on the competitive side. No matter how many sit in the stands, you have to give them what they expect – and that’s what we did. You respect the decision of your fans. They knew we were top of the group anyway and you could basically expect that.”
BATE coach Aleksandr Yermakovich: “It was a totally different level for the team and it was very difficult for us. We were not prepared for this match, we were trying to play for our fans and play attacking football, sadly it didn’t happen.”
Tweet of the match
Star man – Jack Wilshere
Yet again the England midfielder used the Europa League to showcase both his fitness and his finesse, spraying passes around the pitch for fun and chipping in with his first goal in two and a half years. The 25-year-old remains an afterthought for Wenger when it comes to the Premier League but he is a firm fan favourite who is still playing for a new contract at the Emirates Stadium, more showings like this make that fresh deal a no-brainer for the club.
Moment of the match
Having hit the post early on, Elneny’s strike to seal the 6-0 win was the pick of the goals as the Egypt midfielder added to his solitary strike in the Nou Camp with a curling, first-time effort. The 25-year-old is another looking to break into the Premier League side but is currently struggling to even make the matchday squad for the big games.
Debuchy scored just the second Arsenal goal of his career as he opening the scoring here, his last effort came against Liverpool in December 2014 with 1082 days separating his strikes.
Arsenal: David Ospina 6 (out of 10), Mathieu Debuchy 7, Rob Holding 7, Calum Chambers 7, Ainsley Maitland-Niles 6, Francis Coquelin 7, Mohamed Elneny 8, Theo Walcott 8, Jack Wilshere 9, Danny Welbeck 6, Olivier Giroud 7. Subs: Reiss Nelson (for Walcott, 70) 6, Joe Willock (for Elneny, 76) 6, Eddie Nketiah (for Welbeck, 77) 6.
BATE Borisov: Denis Scherbitski 6, Aleksei Rios 5, Nemanja Milunovic 3, Denis Polyakov 4, Maksim Volodko 5, Evgeni Berezkin 5, Stanislav Dragun 5, Mikhail Gordeichuk 5, Mirko Ivanic 5, Igor Stasevich 5, Vitali Rodionov 5. Subs: Nikolai Signevich (for Rodinov, 56) 5, Jasse Tuominen (for Stasevich, 68) 5.
Who’s up next?
Southampton v Arsenal (Premier League, December 10)