Arsenal will hope to build on their strong start to their UEFA Europa League campaign with a win against Belarusian giants BATE Borisov.
Arsenal’s season has taken a typical turn. A slow start combined with heavy ridicule followed by a run of good results to steady the voices, the Gunners will be looking to further strengthen their chances of qualifying for the next phase of the UEFA Europa League as they visit Belarus.
BATE Borisov are currently jostling for the title in the Belarusian Premier League, currently sitting 2 points behind leaders Soligorsk with 7 games to go. While the manager might feel the need to provide adequate rest to key players to focus on winning the league, he cannot afford it against a team of Arsenal’s level.
As the Gunners come visiting the Borisov Arena, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at the fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Aleksandr Yermakovich is expected to change a few players from the side that drew 1-1 against FK Crvena Zvezda in their first Group Stage tie. The manager does not have any injuries to deal with and with no players unavailable, there could be rotation on the cards, especially with the side challenging for the Belarusian Premier League title.
The decision may boil down to the importance of UEFA Europa League in the eyes of the manager, who may even decide to field a strong eleven, with Arsenal set to field a second-string side of sorts.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Scherbitski; Rios, Gayduchik, Milunovic, Polyakov; Volodko, Dragun; Gordeychuk, Ivanic, Stasevich; Rodionov
Arsene Wenger has considerable roster issues to deal with going into the game on Thursday. As many as 10 first-team players are either injured, unavailable or rested and it may mean the Frenchman provides some of the younger players a chance to impress in Belarus.
The Gunners have travelled without Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal while Calum Chambers is out with injury, restricting the options in defence. Up ahead, Wenger has also chosen to rest Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette for the tie.
With Alex Iwobi, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck injured, the forward line is expected to contain the likes of Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Olivier Giroud is expected to start upfront for the Gunners while Theo Walcott could also get a look in.
With Wenger resting so many players, the onus will be on the defence, with usual names like Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding to make sure the backline stays strong.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Ospina; Mustafi, Mertesacker, Holding; Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Wilshere, Da Silva; Walcott, Nelson; Giroud
1. BATE Borisov has only met one English side – Everton in the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League group stage – losing the home fixture and winning the away one.
2. This is Arsenal’s first meeting with a side from Belarus.
3. Arsenal have scored in each of their last 11 away games in European competitions, but have failed to keep a clean sheet in nine of them.
4. BATE Borisov are unbeaten in their last seven home games in European competitions and have lost just one in the last 11 home games – the defeat coming in October, 2015 against Barcelona.
5. Josh Da Silva could be in line to make his European debut for the Arsenal senior team.
Player To Watch
The youngster has been hailed as the one to watch right from his days in the academy. The attacker has been steadily making his mark and could really show his abilities on Thursday in Belarus. The player is expected to get a good run out against BATE Borisov.
And Nelson would be looking to take advantage of the situation to push himself more into Wenger’s plans for the rest of the season.
BATE Borisov 0-2 Arsenal
Arsenal are set to field what will be a genuine second-string side, apart from a few known names. But, the likes of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud should ensure a victory for the Gunners. Youngsters like Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson are expected to put in a good shift. A comfortable win for Wenger & co.