Arsenal draw a blank but progress to Europa League knockout stage
Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League at the Emirates Stadium tonight.
It’s the first points the Gunners have dropped in their Europa League campaign.
The result though secures Arsenal’s passage to the knockout stages of the Europa League with two matches to spare.
The Gunners top Group H with 10 points from four games and Cologne’s 5-2 win over BATE Borisov in the group’s other game allowed them to progress to the last 32.
In a disappointing match lacking quality, both sides missed chances to claim the victory.
Olivier Giroud was twice denied a goal by the visiting goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the first half.
At the other end Matt Macey had to make two saves to keep out Red Star, who carried a threat on the counter-attack throughout the match.
Arsenal had two appeals for penalties turned down in the second half. The first when Wilshere appeared to be blocked and then when a prone Red Star defender handled the ball.
Wilshere was Arsenal’s main creative source, and came closest to scoring for the home side but his shot from close range was cleared off the line.
It was Wilshere’s first start at the Emirates in European competition since August 2014 (1-0 v Besiktas in Champions League qualifying).
At the other end Ghana striker Richmond Boakye shot wide of the target with efforts in each half, as Red Star threatened the Arsenal goal.
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 16 games in all competitions at the Emirates (won 14, drawn two). However, this was the first time since May that they failed to take all three points (2-2 against Manchester City).
This was the first 0-0 Arsenal have been involved in at the Emirates since October 2016, when they drew against Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough in the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger’s side failed to score in a European home game for the first time since February 2016 (2-0 defeat against Barcelona in the Champions League).
Arsenal have not lost any of the nine home games they have played on a Thursday under Arsene Wenger (won eight, drawn one).
Red Star Belgrade are the first Serbian team to keep a clean sheet away from home against English opposition since Partizan Belgrade in August 2003 (1-0 against Newcastle in Champions League qualifying).
Next up for Arsenal is a trip to Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
Arsenal: Macey 7, Nelson 6, Debuchy 6, Elneny 6, Holding 6, Maitland-Niles 6, Coquelin 6, Willock 6 (Nketiah), Wilshere 8, Walcott 6, Giroud 6