STONE COLD FRIDAY: Arsenal Bate’s Borisov Off The Park

Reviewing a dead rubber is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Talk about drawing the short straw after Thursday night football. Dead rubbers don’t come any more spicy than 6 without response on matchday 6. 12 shots on target and the net bulging 6 times. It seems a galaxy away from last Saturday’s malarkey against United when everything from de Gea’s performance to witchcraft was used to try an explain how Arsenal failed to score more goals.

BATE Borisov were on a fool’s errand. They had an unreasonable hope of turning Arsenal over while Koln did them a favour against Red Star Belgrade. There is a small irony in Arsenal turning over a team 10-2 on aggregate in Europe. Where have we heard that one before?

Not that it mattered beyond confidence building for the players and a chance to enter the thoughts of the manager for future selection. With the mysterious injuries plaguing Arsenal, there were bound to be changes across the board. The defence being of particular interest as the trip to Southampton approaches.

Of Rare Goals and Collector’s Items

Arsenal barely entered second gear as they cruised through the match with confidence. An 11th-minute collector’s item from Mathieu Debuchy starting the rout. Even for an Arsenal defender, 3 years is a long time to wait for a confidence boosting goal and performance. Theo Walcott, who played a role in Debuchy’s goal made sure his man of the match performance got its reward with a second shortly after. I doubt if Welbeck intended an assist, but sometimes lady luck just places that ball in your path.

Theo’s mind is clearly set on giving Wenger a selection headache, but apart from the cup competition and playing super-sub, it’s hard to see how he will dislodge any of the AOL triumvirate. It’s still a long season, injuries and suspensions bound to create opportunities. Walcott had an inspiring game, creating space and making threatening runs. Jack Wilshere was determined not to be outshined, taking ownership of that elusive No. 10 role to constantly prod and poke an opponent already suffering a failure in confidence. Wilshere’s reward came just before half time with a sweet left footer from the edge of the box that gave the Borisov keeper no chance. Like Debuchy’s, Jack’s goal was a long time coming, May 2015 being the last time he scored a goal in Arsenal colours.

When It Rains, It Pours

It took barely 7 minutes after the break for that blasted fella called OG to check in. He can be a strange chap if he catches you at the wrong end of the pitch. Just ask Lee Dixon who still gets haunted by his own goal against Coventry. Welbeck would have surely tapped Walcott’s fire and forget cross into an empty net, but Denis Polyakov was happy to oblige. Not that he had a chance of sending that ball anywhere but the back of his net.

Giroud, who played better than he has in the last couple of Europa League outings was determined not to be left out of the party, a glimpse of his desperation resulting in a couple of pot shots. His chance came with the second bite from the spot kick, the Borisov players accused of encroaching into the penalty area the first time around.

Mohamed Elneny completed the job before he trudged off the pitch for Willock. His first goal at the Emirates a just reward for his steady performance alongside Le Coq. David Ospina was underemployed, but equal to the task when called upon. He made 5 saves which tells you how dire Borisov were in attack; the task of overhauling Arsenal was clearly beyond them.

Bring It On, I hear The Players Say

Arsenal are favourites to win the Europa League, though Atletico Madrid will vehemently disagree. Seedings ensure we don’t meet them in the next round, but Dortmund and Napoli are teams to avoid. Monday’s draw will be an indicator of the approach to team selection for future rounds which Arséne might take.

It was intriguing to listen to the half-time musings of Dan Roebuck and former Arsenal player David Hillier, the Arsenal Player commentators last night, discussing the clubs mindset in the Europa League. They alluded that the club were already preparing financially and mentally for the Europa League by late February/early March when it became clear we might miss out on the 4th place title. Perhaps an acceptance by the club of our station in life, perhaps just pragmatic planning.

Surely now  Arsenal must take the competition seriously? It’s a trophy that we have a good chance of winning; a success in Europe, albeit in the lesser cup, which must be a confidence booster for the team. I don’t really see any fan refusing to embrace a Europa League title if it lands in our hands.

The law of averages suggests we have a better shot in Europe than of overhauling those ahead of us in the Premier League. What would be a disaster of a season for me though, is if Tottenham finish above us again. We can’t be having this “power shift in North London” nonsense talk again.

16 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Arsenal Bate’s Borisov Off The Park

  1. lari03 says:

    I think this game shows why Arsene needs to leave. A manager has the squad to execute games, when your second team hits six goals beyond an opponent, no matter how dire they may seem, you take the credit. When the team falls short, you take the blame. Leicester won the league with a good system, understanding in the team, consistent performances amidst a general slump of the big teams. No excuses Arsene, the buck stops at your desk.

    Good goals for Debuchy, Wilshere & Elneny. Now can we exhibit better football defensively going forward in the premier league ?

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    6-0, no complaints here. Have we scored more than 6 at the E^^irates? I don’t recall it. Could have been 10 really.

    I was one of the 20,000+ lost souls in the ground last night. There were more empty seats than spectators. The European competition group stages need a rethink. 6 games are too many. Maybe groups of 3 would be more exciting? 4 games with the top team going through to the knockout stages. Less guaranteed money for the teams though, so I doubt it would catch on.

  3. C says:

    You lucky lucky man you are Darius, Yogi had to write after Manure and you get to write after we play a BATE side that wasn’t equal to the quality of our B team.

    Well done to the players though for taking their chances and dispatching BATE ruthlessley and efficiently. The more 90 mins Jack and I willl say Theo get the better it is because they are squad players and each offers something that we aren’t oozing with: Jack with ability to pick a lock and Theo with an eye for goal.

    Well done to Maitland-Niles who continues to impress (personally I hope he gets more match time than Le Coq) when called upon and good to see Elneny continuing to just go about his business and then get himself a goal.

    I might not be Debuchy’s biggest supporter….okay okay, I don’t think he should get a single min BUTTTTTTTTTTT well done to him for playing well and that was quite a strike.

  4. Damon says:

    Did anyone else see Gary Coleman turn out for Everton last night? Looks to be a bit of a player now he’s back from the dead?

  5. Wavey says:

    Afternoon all,

    A professional performance by with second XI with some very well-taken goals and a clean sheet. Can’t really complain at that.

    Now a bit of a break so that we can begin the FA Cup campaign. I’m guessing AW will be fielding a similar team for the game against Forest.

  6. Jonny says:


    I missed that game – who is this player who looks like Gary Coleman, lol? 😀

  7. Bill says:

    Great review Darius. What you said is what I thought of yesterday’s game.

  8. Bill says:

    It’s hard to believe those were the same players who seemed to sleep walk thru a couple of games against red star and Koln. I guess leaving Reiss Nelson out of the starting line up really made the difference yesterday 😉

    Yesterday is an example of why I think Theo should be ahead of Danny Welbeck in our squad pecking order. Danny is a nice player and he can look industrious and he is pacey but he just does not make things happen very often. Theo often looks useless when he does not score which is why he divides opinions but he can score and players who are a legitimate threat to score are in relatively short supply in our squad. If Sanchez leaves in January we need someone who is a threat to score and for me Theo should take the place in the starting 11 instead of welbeck it Giroud.

  9. Damon says:



    Scored a brace last night. Only 20 years old and looked more than the part. Looked him up today and Everton paid nearly £8m for him!!!!

    Sign of the times?

  10. Pete the Thirst says:

    How could I forget that one?

    Doesn’t have the same aura of Arsenal 7 – Everton 0 in 2005. It’s been downhill since then…

    I Odumbe Kute:
    Pete the Thirst,

    The record at the Emirates is 7 goals against Sparta Prague I think in the CL

  11. Bill says:

    I know a lot of bloggers would have rather seen Reiss Nelson and Eddie and Jeff starting yesterday and those guys probably would have looked good in a game like yesterday where we totally overwhelmed the opponent. However, we are going to need to use at least a couple from the group of Wilshere, Welbeck, Giroud, Walcott, Elneny Le Coq Holding during the crowded holiday fixture list and we will also need them if we have injuries. We have more experienced senior squad players now then at any time in the Emirates era. We need to find ways to get them as many minutes as possible whenever we can even if it means that Eddie or Jeff or Nelson don’t get on the pitch as much as we would like.

  12. YW says:

    I cant remember the chronology but we did ‘boro for 7 as well around that time as well. And Sheffield Wednesday in the late 80s / early 90s, with something like 5 or 6 in the last 20 minutes.

  13. andy1886 says:


    February ’92 YW, remember it well, a fairly average game until we went completely bonkers in the last fifteen minutes.

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