Arsenal ended their Europa Leauge Group Stage campaign on a high as they coasted to a 6-0 rout over BATE Borisov at the Emirates on Thursday
The hosts dominated from the word go, barely breaking a sweat against the hapless Belarusians before grabbing the lead after just 11 minutes as Mathieu Debuchy struck a sweetly timed shot from the edge of the box past Denis Scherbitski.
Thereafter, the visitors went about defending in numbers to restrict the damage as Arsenal continued to command most of the possession. But, their resolve didn’t last long as Theo Walcott scored a close-range goal after the ball kindly fell to his feet. The Gunners went into half-time with a three-goal lead with Jack Wilshere drilling a shot into the top corner.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) December 7, 2017
Shortly into the second half, the lead was quadrupled as Walcott’s low cross was turned by Denis Polyakov into his own net. Olivier Giroud then made it five from the penalty spot after Walcott was brought down in the BATE box.
The win was rounded off with fifteen minutes left in regulation time as Mohamed Elneny curled the ball in from the edge of the box. The win was the best possible way to cap off the Group Stage campaign for Arsene Wenger’s men, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Group H winners.
David Ospina: 7/10
A virtual spectator for the most part in the game, Ospina barely had a touch on the ball in any capacity. The Colombian had just one routine save to make on what was a quiet night, and he would now be looking forward to his next outing, perhaps in the Carabao Cup against West Ham United.
Mathieu Debuchy: 8/10
The comeback trail continued on Thursday for Debuchy and this time, he got the opportunity to start in his preferred right-back role. At ease in a familiar role, the Frenchman charged forward with purpose all through the night, with hardly anything to do at the back.
Mathieu Debuchy scores his first competitive goal for the club since December 21st 2014 🚀 pic.twitter.com/BZvuHuEgIr
— ArsenalFanTV (@ArsenalFanTV) December 7, 2017
One such forward forays saw him grab his first goal in nearly three years, and the neat, driving finish would be memorable for years to come. While he still is unlikely to be a regular starter anytime soon, such performances would help him become a useful option, if need be, in the Premier League.
Calum Chambers: 7/10
Back into the comforts of a central defensive role after struggling slightly as a wing-back last time out, Chambers looked composed, although he had little work to do defensively. Instead, he was involved in the buildup play, spraying a number of passes forward, and even starting the move for Debuchy’s goal.
Rob Holding: 7/10
Like his partner at the heart of defence, Holding virtually had a night off at the back as he was rarely called into action. He, too, used this game as an opportunity to train himself in playing out ball from the back. The youngster is right on the cusp of a bigger role in the squad, but must bide his time.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 7/10
Maitland-Niles’ transformation into a defensive player continued on Thursday, this time starting as a left-back. But while he started as a full-back on paper, Arsenal’s dominance enabled him to play as more of a winger, using his pace to good effect.
One minor drawback in his game that he needs to address is his wastefulness, shown time and again in the European campaign so far. Otherwise, he has been quite an asset for Arsene Wenger, adapting to alien roles on the left side quite remarkably.
Jack Wilshere: 9/10
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) December 7, 2017
The 2017 resurgence continued in fantastic fashion on Thursday for Wilshere, who showed exactly what he can do when given a free rein to strut his stuff on the field. Against BATE, he was the creative force for the Gunners, at the heart of just about every chance that was made on the night.
The Englishman showed just how determined he is to fight for his Arsenal future, driving well into the final third and darting past defenders with ease, heavily involved in each of the goals. He also got to cap off an outstanding performance with a thumping goal that gave Denis Scherbitski no chance. He’d now be hoping for a more regular role in the squad.
Francis Coquelin: 7/10
In what was one of his easiest outings in an Arsenal shirt, Coquelin had more work to do in his forward forays than off the ball. His distribution was quite effective as well, especially in the buildup to Walcott’s goal, and he otherwise linked up well with Wilshere.
Mohamed Elneny: 8/10
A night to remember for Elneny, who has largely been underwhelming so far this season. On Thursday, though, he was quite impressive and penetrative with the ball, having been afforded a lot of time and space on it. To cap off a strong outing, the Egyptian also scored his second Arsenal goal, a fine, curling shot.
Theo Walcott: 9/10
What a fabulous performance by Arsenal’s skipper on the night. With Arsenal dominating from start to finish, the Walcott of the old was on full display, complete with lung bursting runs, nippy movement and a keen eye for goal.
Arsenal all-time top scorers in Europe:
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) December 7, 2017
One goal and three assists, and he could have had a whole lot more to show for his efforts if not for a fine save and a goal-line clearance. Quite a statement from the Englishman, with his Arsenal career dwindling.
Olivier Giroud: 7.5/10
Giroud had a lot of fun on the night, showcasing his entire array of flicks, tricks and delicate touches. On top of that, his link up with Wilshere and Walcott was quite delightful, combining with the duo for smart one-twos. The Frenchman also earned himself a goal, scoring from the spot (and twice, after he was asked to retake it).
Danny Welbeck: 6.5/10
Perhaps the only Arsenal player who wasn’t at his best on the night, Welbeck looked quite a bit rusty. While he did work hard all through his stint on the pitch and his movement was menacing, the England international was wasteful in possession, squandering a few chances. Nothing that a few more of such outings can’t solve, though.