Arsenal v BATE Borisov: Europa League Match Preview
Arsenal complete their Europa League Group H fixtures with a match against BATE Borisov at the Emirates Stadium tonight (8.05pm kick-off UK time).
The Gunners have already qualified for the last 32 of the competition as Group H winners.
BATE Borisov must win and hope the other game in the group between Red Star Belgrade and FC Koln is drawn to join them in qualifying.
Arsenal will want to end this phase of the competition with a win after not winning either of their last two group matches.
They followed up a 0-0 draw at home to Red Star Belgrade, with a 1-0 defeat to FC Koln in Germany.
The Gunners won the reverse in Borisov on matchday two scoring three times in the first 25 minutes, including a double for Theo Walcott, en route to a 4-2 victory. Rob Holding and Olivier Giroud scored Arsenal’s other goals, with Ivanić and Gordeichuk scoring for BATE.
If the Gunners beat BATE, they will record 13 points after six Europa League group stage games, only Tottenham in 2013-14 will have ever picked up more points for an English side (18).
Arsenal are already guaranteed to win their group, being only the second English club to finish top of the group in their debut Europa League campaign (after Man City in 2010-11). No English club has ever recorded more than 11 points in their debut EL season.
Arsenal are undefeated in their last seven UEFA group home games (W5 D2) since a 3-2 loss to Olympiacos on matchday two of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.
The Gunners are without a goal in their last two European games, they’ve never failed to score in three successive matches in European competition.
BATE were crowned Belarusian Champions for 14th time on 26th November. Clinching the title on goal difference from Dinamo Minsk.
BATE have won just twice in their last 24 European away fixtures (D7 L15), both victories coming this season – 3-1 against Armenian champions Alashkert in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, and 2-1 versus Ukrainian club Olexandriya in the UEFA Europa League play-offs. Both wins came in the second leg after they had drawn the first match 1-1 at home.
The Belarussians have kept just two clean sheets in their last 26 European away trips (inc. qualifiers), conceding five goals last time out.
Ahead of the January transfer window, Jack Wilshere will want to take the chance to impress manager Arsene Wenger. The midfielder may well get only one further opportunity in the EFL Cup quarter-final against West Ham United to press his claim before the transfer window opens in January.
Aleksey Rios has provided three assists in the Europa League this season
Arsenal Team New
Despite already having won the group Arsene Wenger has said that he will name “quite an experienced team” tonight.
Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are all set to start.
With Shkodran Mustafi a doubt for Sunday’s Premier League match against Southampton, Per Mertesacker or Rob Holding may omitted from the starting line-up tonight.
Mohamed Elneny is in line to start as one of the three centre backs.
“You feel you have done the job to finish top of the group. We now play our final game at home against BATE Borisov without much at stake, other than the fact that we want to win the game.
“What does it really mean? I don’t know. It’s what we wanted.”
“We’ve benefitted from rotation (in this competition in terms of keeping players fresh and injury free).
“We missed an opportunity on Saturday to take advantage of that, because we were physically quite strong in the game. But we are in a position where we have to take the month of December in a very serious way, be efficient and hopefully we can benefit from that.
First of all, we play on Sunday against Southampton and it doesn’t mean that the players that play tomorrow will not play against Southampton. After, we have three weeks and play in the League Cup as well, so they’ll get games.
On facing teams dropping down from the Champions League in the next phase of the Europa League, Wenger added:
“That’s always been the case, and I was against it. We voted many times in Geneva for that and you have to respect that, it’s what you call democracy. The majority voted for the Champions League teams to go back to the Europa League and [in] many, many years, they won it.
“It looks more logical but today it’s a bit different because there’s more compromise in there because eight teams go out early. That was just to keep them in Europe and to give them quality competition. And even more, for the first time last year, teams qualified for the Champions League [by winning the Europa League].
On how he will approach picking teams for the next round of the Europa League, Wenger concluded:
“I will adapt every time the team to the difficulty we face and will try to build a balanced team. Of course we have some who have shown quality, but I consider them as well for the Premier League. It’s a fight going on and there’s nobody ruled out for any game.”
Referee: Robert Schörgenhofer (AUT)
Markus Gutschi (AUT)
Roland Riedel (AUT)
Andreas Witschnigg (AUT)
Additional assistant referees
Markus Hameter (AUT)
Rene Eisner (AUT)
Arsenal to win 3-1.