Will Arsenal Take The BATE?

The ludicrous kick-off times employed by UEFA bite us on the Arsenal tomorrow with kick-off at ‘how the hell do I get there by then when I finish work at 5.30’ o’clock? For an unpopular tournament, it’s always good to make changes to make it even less well-regarded.

Still, we’re used to seeing banks of empty seats at the Emirates so maybe UEFA thought nobody will notice.

The team news is out and surprisingly there are no injury worries beyond Holding, Bellerin and Welbeck. Mesut Ozil isn’t absent either through back-knack or leaves on the track/runway preventing his timely return to training.

Aaron Ramsey is also back in training and there’s a sense of getting the band back together for a farewell tour or because we don’t have any better options since Alexandre Lacazette is suspended. Will this mean a return to the midfield diamond which decimated Chelsea? These things will be pondered tomorrow, unless I forget about them which, let’s be honest, isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

Unai Emery talks to the press this afternoon with the key theme being trust. He mentioned it last week after the humiliating defeat in Borisov:

I trust in our players and I trust in our stadium and supporters.

There are two matches. Tonight’s match is important but we can’t [be knocked out in it], we are going to play a second match next week. 

I trust in our work to prepare for the next match and to have a different result at Emirates Stadium.

Unai Emery launches his Arsenal party manifesto

Frankly, if you trust Shkodran Mustafi as a central defender, you’re mad.

Who Shot The Shot?

The reality is the players must be more efficient in front of goal than we were last week. Kolasinac enjoyed the freedom the city of Borisov on the flanks but this time, with something to defend, BATE are probably going to employ banks of defenders. They would throw in the bodies of the 300 piled up in a wall if they could as well as deploying their team bus and some tanks.

In short, I don’t expect them to even field a centre-forward.

Which means lots of passes across the pitch and penalty area with not much space for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to exploit.

But is there more at stake for Unai Emery? Some want him gone for the way the season panned out, some never wanted him anyway but for the vast majority, he has their support with varying caveats. The football on offer has largely been terrible with either confidence shot to pieces or a genuine failure to comprehend what he is asking of players.

Some of that is down to a lack of belief in the defence; injuries mean Mustafi plays every week despite being hopelessly out of his depth. Compensating for this ineptitude hampers the style of play to some degree.

However, losing this tie? That’s not acceptable and I think, would cost a lot of goodwill for the coach. That’s not to say he should be sacked after one bad result in Europe but it would erode the belief in him and that I think is going to be an issue he must contend with.

But we’re not going to lose so what does it matter. We’re The Arsenal and there’s pride in playing for the club as much as some of the players know they are playing for their futures.

Save The Drama For BBC1

Is that overly dramaic for one match? There’s a cumulative effect at play which masks that Emery is pretty much on par with what was expected of him in terms of results; fifth in the Premier League with a genuine opportunity to finish fourth and through to the knockout stages of the Europa League. We’d have liked a cup run but not this season, nor last which highlights the fragility of those hopes.

The lack of a defined style of play doesn’t help Emery. I mean, I think I know how he wants us to play but nobody is certain and landing Denis Suarez on loan doesn’t exactly feed into that. His Sevilla side from memory attacked swiftly down the flanks with a high-pressing game but we’re a country mile away from that due to personnel. Maybe this summer will make the difference?

On the subject of Suarez, will he start tomorrow? If not, there are 12 Premier League games and (hopefully) some Europa League ties. He’s running out of time to make a convincing case for signing him. At this moment in time, is there any advantage in signing him over keeping Mkhitaryan or Elneny? This is the stage at which he needs to be pushing that claim.

’til Tomorrow.

27 thoughts on “Will Arsenal Take The BATE?

  1. Ian says:

    A weekday evening match that will allow me to be home before 8pm – The added bonus is that I should be able to have the stadium to myself as well. #Keepthenoisedown

  2. St Totteringham says:

    “The football on offer has largely been terrible with either confidence shot to pieces or a genuine failure to comprehend what he is asking of players.
    Some of that is down to a lack of belief in the defence;”

    That sums up Unai Emery’s season thus far. Raul may not want to sack a fellow Spaniard, if Europa win falls through or we do not reach top 4 PL position or we bump along mid-table, and if next season begins with a bad set of results.

  3. thrillbo says:

    Good post, the continued shots at the chuckle bro are noted, and warranted imo.

    Wanting to jump back quick to yesterday’s Gnabry topic. Lets not be so quick to crown him king. He has actual midfielders and defenders behind him so he can focus on attack. I’m sure Serge is powering up and down the flanks, tracking back well. He is young and should be able to sprint for days.

    However when he is attacking he can be free. He knows that is he loses possession, his capable teammates behind him are there to cover. When we are storming down our wings , we are actually our most vulnerable. No cover behind, an easy long ball over the top is all it takes.

    Just see what kind of meal the chuckle bros will make of it this time?…

    Let it bounce so striker can get in position and recover possession?
    Let striker stand behind you so he has a clear path to goal from a goal kick?
    Fall down out of nowhere because god knows why?

    Or you can lump towards Kos… Maybe he will clear it off his own face right into the path of Greizzman to completely screw our hopes at europa glory. Or do whatever stunt Kos pulled against Birmingham back in 2011 in the cup final.

  4. Mattack says:


    My hazy recollection of the Gnabry situation was that he came off his bad injury, was loaned to one of Pulis’ orc armies, didn’t get game time / risked neck strain watching long balls fly over his head, came back to us, was offered a contract or at least it was made clear we wanted to keep him, starred at Olympics/ Confederations Cup (both?) and made it clear he wanted to go / would not sign contract and then went to Bayern via another German club. The previous manager and CEO mucked a lot of things up with player contracts but not sure that was one of them…

  5. Blue Yonder says:


    That’s more or less my recollection, too. What stands out is that Gnabry wanted to leave. Playing time? handling? growth opportunity? – I don’t really know, but I was disappointed when he left and even more so now.
    One thing that does seem clear and that’s that our current malaise has been a long time in the planning.

  6. Blue Yonder says:

    If the A team shows up, it should be a victory – not an easy one because BATE will, as YW notes, put up a wall. However, if the scrubs show up, then it’s Goodnight Irene with Unai’s collar getting a bit tighter. All in all, a good time for players to stand up and be counted.

  7. C says:

    Blue Yonder,


    I think it was the playing time but also Arsene seemed to want to give more match time to Iwobi. Personally, I also wanted to keep Gnabry because before and after his injury all the signs were there. Shame really when you think we really needed a winger who not only created goals but scored goals, work his socks off for the team and was technically all their and Arsene didn’t do enough to keep him.

  8. ferkov says:

    Must be hard to handle good players with potential career threatening injuries tho eh?
    Extend their contract while they are vulnerable and find they never recover fully? Wait and see how well they recover and reintegrate cautiously…. they get arms ache and leave. Many in between. We’ve seen the lot, and Arsene wasn’t a one trick pony in this regard.
    Hard to see Gnabry breaking into first team when his contract was negotiable, then he found form in a soft league. Would he have been hacked to retirement or got bored of ball starvation if he’d stayed. Glad we kept Iwobi. Not world class, but good enough for us and doesn’t gets bossed out of games.

  9. ferkov says:

    Overriding caveat. How many first choice player weeks have we lost in past 20 years?? … go on, someone will know… haha.
    Physio blah blah, fair enough a couple of niggling strains this year, but mainly big, impact related injuries. The hacks have contributed to this situation. Excuse the pun.

  10. Bill says:

    Gnabry’s stats are not that good. He has 5 goals and 2 assists in 19 league games and no goals and 1 assist in 6 CL games. The idea that he would be a major difference making player is probably off target. That said I would certainly rather have him then iwobe. I think both Gnabry and iwobe played the same position and Arsène liked iwobe because he was the more technical creative Wengerball type player and Gnabry was not going to get any minutes. I think Gnabry was offered another loan spell or playing again with the U21 but he decided to go back to Germany.

    I think Gnabry’s loan failed because we sent him to west brom before he was ready to play regularly in the PL which is exactly what Pulis said.

  11. thrillbo says:

    If either Iwobi or Gnabry gets to 10 goals created that is a decent season. You need some players in that next tier down, the theo tier. 10/15/20 goals created a year. Having the two players upfront who are going to create 50 – 60 goals is huge, we need a few 10 goal folks.

  12. C says:

    Sczcesny just came with a truly top quality save to deny Griezmann.

  13. thrillbo says:

    Oh we need to shore up the defense too. I think last week i looked through some of our defensive history recently. In the early 2010s we were closer to 35/40 goals allowed per year. This was our top 4 every year period. This year we are on pace for closer to 45-50, currently at 37.

    If SOMEONE can figure out how to drill a defense with this squad, we have a top 4 squad. If we can keep Auba/Laca humming and add a few more key pieces, we might be able to compete on the city/pool level. Emery might be that guy, he has the energy and desire. Needs more time to get in more players. But we cant dwell on Emery for 5 years if we dont progress. Give him adequate time and make the judgements in year 3/4/5 of his tenure.

  14. C says:


    He was coming off a year out injured so he wasn’t fully fit let alone match fit plus he went to Pulis.

    You purely look at stats but its about influence sometimes. Watching that match last night and it is clear that Gnabry was arguably the beat and most influential player on the pitch BAR NONE. He created chances and truly it was some last ditch tackles that saved Liverpool a couple times but he absolutely took Robertson to pieces. Stats don’t always tell the story, especially at a club like Bayern and especially for a winger.

    If Gnabry wasn’t and isn’t such a difference maker then surely he wouldn’t be firat choice at Bayern or am I mistaken? He has accounted for 7 goals in 19 appearances as a winger, that either a goal or assist almost every other match, what exactly do you think a winger produces? Ask ANY manager in the world would they take a goal or assist from their winger plus the constant skinning of the opposing FB and they would bite your hand off for it! You take a look at Pires and at Arsenal he scored a goal every 3 matches.

  15. thrillbo says:


    Yeah i’m with you on the production. If you play in every EPL match and get a goal every other match you are almost at 20 which is top quality for a winger. I’d be happy with 15 goals/assists.

    Looking at Theo’s stats for us. He had a few years producing 7/8 goals per year in EPL. Then he had 3 solid years with 15+ goals produced. 9/7, 8,8, 14/10, 5/4… Praise the lord if Iwobi ever scores more than 10 in the EPL. Hey i think he could score or assist on 10. He just needs to calm down a bit. He is looking a bit like Gervinho to me guys. Chicken legs can dance around defenders but flip a coin to whether or not the contact will be solid and on target.

  16. Bill says:


    Your math is a bit off. 7 goals and assists in 19 games in not really very close to 1 in every other game.

    If he is creating chances for a good team like Bayern then how could he only have 3 assists in 25 league and CL games? If someone is consistently creating legitimate chances and is consistently highly influential for a good team then he should have reasonably good stats.

  17. Blue Yonder says:


    thrillbo: You need some players in that next tier down, the theo tier. 10/15/20 goals created a year.

    Case in point: when Henry was scoring 20-30 goals per season, Pires and Ljungberg were knocking in 10-15 goals apiece and I think Pires notched 17 one season.
    Theo was that man for a while, also Ramsey but no-one at present. It’s a big need, for sure.

  18. Blue Yonder says:


    C: Sczcesny just came with a truly top quality save to deny Griezmann.

    That’s another move that hasn’t worked out for us. Fair enough, he was prone to some errors of judgement during his time with us but he seems to have worked them out now. Fabianski, too. He’s having a great year with WHU, after some good seasons at Swansea. Does that mean Mustafi will leave and turn into a good defender? I wouldn’t go that far but being at Arsenal hasn’t always brought out the best in some players.

  19. Bill says:

    I would certainly trade Gnabry for Iwobe, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Suarez etc etc. I also suspect he would be a regular starter for the current Arsenal sqaud and I wish we had kept him instead of Iwobe. However, I don’t think we missed out on a superstar player.

  20. Bill says:

    Gnabry probably won’t be starting for Bayern long term if his production does not improve.

  21. C says:


    You said 5 goals 2 assists which is 7 goals in 19 matches which is…… your moving the needle mate but if it is 7 goals and 1 assist that 8 goals scored/created in 19 matches, that about 1 in every 2 or am I mistaken?

    If he wasn’t so influential and if he wasn’t creating then would he be getting such glowing praise? Would he be a regular for Bayern? Stats don’t always tell the story as much as you want them too, they simply don’t. ANYBODY that watched the match last night saw how influential he was but just because he is creating, doesn’t mean they are all finished. He put in some absolutely delicious balls that either were well defended or nobody was for Bayern was their to finish.

  22. C says:


    I think my friend Bill thinks every club will score goals like Barca or Citeh but the reality is, top wingers get you 15-20/goals and assist but are a consistent threat and constantly beating their defender.

    Iwobi seems to have the talent but not the cool head consistently when its needed. Can he develop that consistency to get eveb 10-15/goals and assists a season, I think he can but just because people think he can doesn’t mean he will.

  23. C says:

    Blue Yonder,

    Yea, the other thing that tends to get lost with Szczesny is that he was still young and GK’ers get better with age. He had those 2 seasons on loan but before the smoking thing, he won the Golden Gloves at Arsenal. Mustafi, well I think there is a good defender in there but he needs a calming presense beside him similiar to Kos when he developed beside Mert.

  24. Bill says:


    7 goals and assists in 19 games is much closer to 1 in 3 games rather then 1 in every 2 games. I can show the mathematical proof if needed.

    If a player is consistently putting in great final balls and delicious crosses he will be creating assists unless he is the most unlucky player in history and somehow every one of the great chances he creates is well defended or the player he sets up always misfires. That seems pretty unlikely.

    There have been several dozen players who you have said are uber talented but it they play forward and don’t produce they eventually go the way of the Julian Draxler and Mario Goetze, Alex Iwobe and Ox etc etc. I can’t think of very many forwards who don’t produce end product who continue to start for big teams over the long term.

  25. LSG says:

    Since I won’t be in the ground, I can say that I don’t feel that confident this will be an easy or comfortable victory. One goal by Bate and we have to score 4. I really dislike the away goals rule. We seem incapable of keeping a clean sheet. But I do feel better that Sokratis is back. Much better.

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