BATE Review: Job Done & Rennes Await

Arsenal 3 – 0 BATE Borisov

If Mesut Ozil wants to know what life is like post-Arsenal, he could do worse than look at Alex Hleb. Selling the Belorussian to Barcelona remains the staggering achievement of the previous regime. Essentially, we sold them Iniesta without the inventiveness and goals.

But he returned to applause last night and received rapturous applause which I don’t begrudge him at all. It raises the question why he, who let’s not forget met with Inter Milan in an ice-cream parlour, is deemed less treacherous than Cesc or Robin van Persie?

If you’re feeling sentimental, I’m guessing Villarreal is your ideal draw in the next round. Maybe Santi can come onto the pitch in the same way they announced his return to the Spanish club? Get him stood on the touchline in a chamber consumed by dry ice?

Maybe we could do that for all substitutes? “And who is coming on? Is it Sokratis? Xhaka? No, it’s the killer rabbit!”

The Hleb applause was a distraction to a second leg which proved to be fairly routine, apart from one moment requiring a goal-line clearance to get us out of gaol with just a 1 – 0 lead.

Any doubts that this would be Arsenal’s night were quickly extinguished. You don’t waste the opportunity a third-minute own goal gives you. At that moment, you could see the slump in the players and coach’s demeanour. Plan A was out the window a lot earlier than expected.

And from there, we took our time and wasted plenty of good opportunities to add to the lead, finishing with goals from Mustafi and Sokratis. Both from set-pieces, both courtesy of poor defending. So much for needing a creative edge on pitch. More on Ozil later.

Ice Ice Baby

There was a downside. Laurent Koscielny ended the night with ice packed around his calf. Unai Emery assured us that neither the calf or Achilles tendon was “broken”. God bless him for making it sound like all Koscielny needs is some Gorilla glue to make it better.

Which brings us round to the ‘Ö’ word. So, Mesut, how was it for you? We looked more cohesive at times but with the same vulnerabilities. It was a good night for Özil to return; a lot of possession of ball against a team determined to defend but lacking the ability to provide stubborn opposition. I’d say we played at about 60-70% of our capabilities. Or given our current form, 90-95%.

The chief benefit was the one we expected; there was a link between the defence and attack rather than a gaping hole valiantly filled by Matteo Guendouzi quite literally covering every blade of grass on the Emirates turf.

Emery mentioned Guendouzi post-match:

His development is like we want, he has big ambition and big quality and sometimes we need more quality with him and sometimes we need to be stronger in midfield with different matches, it depends. His development with us is very important and he is playing with consistency and I think he is improving. The quality of his football is very important for us and for me.

Which I think means Guendouzi is playing well.

Ozil got the rehashed training rather than handing in a note from mum routine. The indications are that Emery remains unconvinced by the German, not in terms of ability but in commitment to the squad, to the grand plan. Maybe that stems from being told he can leave or should leave; who knows?

As Good As It Gets

The draw has been made and we face Rennes in the Round of Sixteen with the first leg at the Emirates. Extensive scouting of the Ligue Un club is probably already on social media so forgive me if I pass on that for now.

Chelsea drew Dynamo Kiev which is a throwback to another age. That was the good news this morning having been hit with a two-window transfer ban for illegal deals over youngsters. Think of it as FIFAs version of Operation Yew Tree. Or of Chelsea as football’s Rolf Harris; it was teenagers after all.

And on that bad taste note, I’ll wish you adieu.

’til Tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “BATE Review: Job Done & Rennes Await

  1. So Rennes it is, they have some attacking talent with Ben Afra, Niang, Grenier, and Sarr. This will be an open attacking tie only because even though both clubs try to defend, neither are very good at it. Rennes have come to grips with it and attack with little regards for defending.

  2. Our attack actually looked better and much more likely than we have seen it. Everything seemed to fit and sure Ozil didn’t create that goal but he knitted our attack and there were times that were just unlucky too. Think he should get the nod at the weekend and to be honest, I would probably go with:

    Leno
    Lichsteiner—-Mustafi—Sokaritis-Sead
    Torriera—Guendouzi
    Aubameyang—-Ozil—-Iwobi
    Lacazette

  3. Great review yogi

    We could not afford to concede an away goal and the clean sheet was critical. Clean sheets are not our strong suit and full credit for that. The early own goal was a huge gift and again full credit for taking advantage. I only watched about 60 minutes of the game and it did not look like the dynamic performance we had hoped for and scoring and own goal and 2 headed goals on corner kicks would have made Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce happy but we take em however we can get them and we advanced which is all that really matters.

  4. Regarding Mesut Ozil it was nice that Emery cleared up any confusion and indicating that Mesut needs to show up for training in order to make the squad. That seems like a fairly reasonable expectation. I only watched about 60 minutes of the game but to my eye I saw mostly the same thing we have been seeing for the last couple seasons. I looks like Father Time has taken its toll and robbed him of whatever he had which made him different and special and at this point he is just another guy. Those magical moments that used to occurr automatically are not happening anymore and they have not been for quite some time. Father Time has eventually caught up with every player in history. The biggest thing in his favor in terms of potential playing time is we don’t have anyone else who is a whole lot better.

  5. Damon,

    Have to agree… Bringing Ozil back to face this squad at home is a true david vs goliath. You have to admire the heart and attitude of BATE. They look like a squad of winners, and they beat us at their place.

    I thought we lacked a target up front , someone to put away one of the 50 crosses we sent in. Seriously that squad was more interested in floating diagonal passes rather then scoring. You think a Giroud would have feasted in that game! Maybe Laca too

  6. Quite a relief to see Arsenal move on and with a clean sheet. How far remains to be seen as some sizable challenges await us if we can get past Rennes. At least, at this point, we have risen to the challenge. Can we carry it over to Southampton? Low expectations these days.

  7. Rennes is a great draw. Short travel against a mid table Ligue 1 side with the safety home leg now scheduled second—so we can go ahead and underrate them and then scramble at home. Crepes and cider for the Arsenal away fans it will be!

  8. I think we played well in the first 30mins creating some attacking threat, mostly by Iwobi. But eventually the energy and intensity dissipated with us neglecting to take chances or to keep creating incisive attacks apart from set pieces. Ozil helped us play fluidly and more quickly but he himself didn’t take the responsibility earlier to make things happen or shoot when he was in and around the box much.

    Guendouzi did have a good game after two poor ones. I think Emery has played him a little too much and relied on him too heavily. He’s still young and his decision making, speed of moving the ball and defensive positioning need to improve some for him to develop into a truly top class player but the talent and the desire/mentality are there. I really enjoy watching him. But he will be inconsistent and might hit a wall physically. I don’t want him to get injured, jaded, or not develop properly so I hope Emery is a bit more judicious using him.

  9. LSG,

    With you on the cider and crepes. Nice little crossing from Plym too.

    Also think your Guendo points are valid too.
    In danger of being played too much , with too many responsibilities. His main mistake seems to involve the killer move. Either the final pass after a good foray, or in defence trying to fool the oppo ,going for an interception, but insodoing getting left wrong side and struggling in the chase.
    I’m far from a good footballer, but if he was in my line on a rugby field , I’d say he needs to have faith in others to be good aswell.
    With our current form ,it’s easy to see why he may not

  10. Ah, I was talking from experience as a Janner. If you know already……it’s too late.

    Lie back and enjoy it.

  11. Limestone

    Iwobe can look influential in some games but he is inconstant and offers little end product. Even with that said other then Pea and Lacazette he is the best option we have as a wide forward

    Ozil’s game has changed. In the past, even if you didn’t know who he was you would still be able to pick him out as a special player. You always felt like something was going to happen when he had the ball at his feet. Now if you didn’t know him or his reputation and someone asked your opinion of #10 for Arsenal most would probably shrug their shoulders and say I didn’t really notice him that much. Stats aren’t everything but they certainly add objective evidence to support the idea that he is nothing like the player he used to be.

    Guendouzi has been inconsistent but better then expected. I agree that we have relied on him to much. Time will tell where his ceiling is.

  12. consolsbob,

    Got a lot of great memories of your town, including the prerequisite gaps.
    Worked across the bridge for a while, so it was big Ishtar out for us heading to the big smoke… carnage usually.

  13. Bill,

    Iwobi is another that is still getting to know his best game. Looking for it I hear many cry.
    He has good runs in pretty much every game, except citeh, poor kid. just plain dumb there.
    He does tend to hold it too long still, and ends up getting surrounded. Where he differs here from Guendo is f course, that e sometimes manages to wriggle through and leave 3 oppose in his wake and if he fails it is often in they’re turd.
    How he learns to select when to give and go,or have a pop rather than risk losing possession is beyond my level but that is where he should be getting guidance.
    I still think he’s a couple of goals shy of a purple patch.

  14. Ferkov.

    I know Iwobe is still only 22 but this is his 4th season and we have been saying the same thing for all 4 years. He has technical skill and he looks good running up and down the flank in some games but he still doesn’t create a lot of end product for all of his hard work. How long do we continue to give wait for him to come good and find consistency at a high level? We need more production from that position but do we wait 1 more year or 2 more years before we buy someone and he loses his spot? What if we wait 5-6 years and Iwobe never really finds consistency. Ox was more talented then Iwobe IMO and he took up thousands of high leverage minutes and he was on the cusp of greatness for his entire 5 years but never really found the level we needed.

  15. Bill,

    I think Iwobi is actually more talented than Ox. I know you had a soft spot for him. But Iwobi has much more skill on the ball, passes better, has greater physical strength and power and nearly as much pace. I’m not sure why he blanks in the final third or shoots wildly. My main recommendation has been that he play as a ball carrying midfielder rather than as a wide forward. I’ve been saying this for well over a year. We can use a Rosicky type of player and he can do this job. In preseason I would pair him with Torreira and work on his quick passing. Then any goals or assists he gets from there will be a bonus but we can use the strong attributes of dribbling, passing, protecting the ball and his improved defending to best use.

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