Arsenal Do Enough To Make Europa League Last 16

Online Ed: Bate defeated 3-1 on aggregate

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Arsenal may have been without Alexandre Lacazette yesterday evening due to suspension, but at least they had a playing surface worthy of the name. Unai Emery opted for a back four, which made room for an extra attacking player. That would have been a choice between the newly arrived Denis Suarez, the soon to depart Aaron Ramsey and the out of favour Mesut Ozil. The latter got the chance to start a match for the first time in ages. Whether or not he did enough to convince the manager to retain him should he return to a five at the back formation we’ll probably find out on Sunday. Given Ozil may not be match fit after so long out in the cold could justify rotation as a reason to bench him.

BATE, as expected, did not offer regular danger, but early in the game, they certainly had a couple of very decent opportunities, the best of which was cleared off the line by Lichtsteiner. Arsenal were one up by this time, courtesy of an own goal, but everyone was aware of the implications of a BATE goal, after Emery’s team had failed to secure an away goal of their own in the first leg. There was one very decent chance just before for which they might have been punished by a better striker, but after that, the home side regained control of the game as BATE sat back. A 1-0 scoreline was parity and offered the a penalty shoot out if they could hold on.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of physical attendees. I reckon it may have been around 32,000. Sure, there were a lot of empty seats, as expected, given the 5.55pm kick off time and a general lack of enthusiasm about Thursday evenings and the Europa League. But many had managed to get out of work in time to reach the stadium by kick off.

Things got more comfortable with a second goal, as Mustafi met a corner to bullet his header into the net. It certainly didn’t make the tie safe. A BATE goal would see the Belarussian team through to the next round. But if Arsenal were to concede now, at least they would only need to score once more to win the tie.

Half time came without the concession of a late goal, and no requirement to make any half-time subs. Arsenal made it safe with a third goal courtesy of Sokratis, who replaced Mustafi, scoring a header from another corner. It is perhaps significant that, creatively, the three goals came from two set pieces and an own goal. I guess you could argue this was a consequence of pressure, but with Ozil on the pitch it would have been nice to see more chances opened up. As it was a lot of the attempts on goals were distant pot shots, often from Granit Xhaka. His first brought about a good save, but the rest were woeful. Still, it is good to see the team shooting from range. If they were more accurate, there might have been rebounds. Guendouzi came very close to scoring a pearl from outside the box that went tantalizingly wide.

Alex Hleb started the game last week, but was on the bench yesterday. He made his entrance in the second half with the score still at 2-0 and got a warm reception from the home crowd. It was a good moment. The whole game hung on whether or not BATE would score to make life uncomfortable for their hosts, but the fact they didn’t in the end meant this was a fairly unexciting contest. Arsenal’s football rarely set the crowd alight, although in mitigation BATE’s own lack of ambition did contribute to this. They are still effectively in their off-season and not at full pelt.

So no big shock, a case of job done and onto the next one. We wait to see what the draw brings for the round of 16. One thing that I think everyone would have seen was Emery’s joy at the Arsenal goals. This competition has a lot to do with how he established his reputation and I am pretty sure he won’t be treating it lightly going forward.

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13
comments

  1. mbg

    Feb 23, 2019, 18:35 #113288

    A decent performance and good win and through to the next round, but lets be honest Bate are/were not exactly top opposition how we didn't beat them in the first leg. Thats the last we'll see of Ozil now for a Month.

  2. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 23, 2019, 16:27 #113287

    Just as an example we spent 7 million on Guendozi who has been worth every penny but we have Ainsley who plays the same position and due to MG coming inn, is having to play as a utility man rather than progress in his rightful place. We will sell MG for silly money in 2 seasons and as usual the youth players will drift away....Just my opinion but Smith Rowe would of been a better option for the remainder of the season than Suárez on Loan!!

  3. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 23, 2019, 16:15 #113286

    Good posts SKG and John F, your right our youth set up has done really well the last 2 seasons but it is against the same age groups and problem is we may be beating all the top teams at that level but most of those players will never make it into the first teams as City, Untd etc will just buy ready made players! It's a false comparison nowadays. What the 71 team had and what GG had with good youth system and good cheap buys from small clubs doesn't happen anymore. We have had so many great youth players that never got the chance of a sustained run in the first team that just disappeared in to lower league obscurity. I honestly believe we will never see what Celtic done back in the 60's ever achieved again. The nearest anyone has got since is United under Ferguson with the likes of Scholes, Giggs etc. Money has destroyed the game and we our stuck in no man's land as we have an owner that will not invest like the other major clubs!! I would sooner see a break way team start from scratch like AFC Wimbledon and United FC if we really want the romance back.......

  4. John F

    Feb 23, 2019, 12:05 #113285

    The under 23 team have thrashed City and Spurs recently an d I can see similarities to the mid eighties situation when George took over ,when he had an average squad but promising youngsters coming through..So there could be reasons to be cheerful except I just do not trust Wiggy or the board not to accept offers for any good players that come through.

  5. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Feb 23, 2019, 10:51 #113284

    Bard, most sensible supporters expect Arsenal to be in the doldrums for the next 4 - 5 years, how can we challenge for major honours needing 4 - 5 top class players, it will take more than £45 million to make the real changes needed. The 71 double winning team was made up of 7 or 8 home grown players and I hope we can go that way again. In my nearly sixty years of watching football, IMO the greatest achievement ever by a club side was Celtic winning the 1967 European Cup, with a team in which all the players came from a 12 mile radius of Glasgow, amazing statistic. Money is destroying football and as Danny Baker recently said " TV companies have turned fans into extras of their own game" Arsenal working again with home grown players would be painful short team but long term it is the only way forward, unless you like the Chelsea or Citeh blueprint.

  6. CORNISH GOONER

    Feb 23, 2019, 10:19 #113283

    Reasons to be cheerful - Part Uno. Looks like Monchi is coming which, on paper, looks a very good thing since he has worked both with Dick & also Companies ( sorry Clubs) that supposedly have no money. Therefore he has a track record of sorting out playing staff shit shows such as the one that has become AFC - & he likes the idea of working in London. The other thing that has cheered me is Keown's realistic & very supportive comments about Dick after Thursday's match - made a change from the gloom & doom hysteria of the last few weeks. Now if we could only do something about the owner!!

  7. Bard

    Feb 23, 2019, 08:18 #113282

    To be honest John I dont think Arsenal will be a force to be reckoned with for many years, forget the notion of a few transfer windows and we will be in the mix. That sort of talk is delusional. As you say most of the above are average prem players and to get a few in or nurture our own is a massive long term project. I have written before that the self- sustainability model is fine in theory but it wont work at the top levels of football. Unless Stan sells or has a change of attitude we are stuck in mid table obscurity. Dick's sensible course of action is to use Arsenal as a stepping stone to a better club. There are few prem clubs like Wolves who have serious money behind them, the worry for us fans is being dragged further into mid-table, not winning the prem.

  8. John F

    Feb 23, 2019, 07:45 #113281

    The picture of the players at the top of the page sums up for me the problems at Arsenal.I could only make the case for 2 of them to be in the side next season,Guendouzi and Auba.Most of them are either knocking on a bit,have an attitude problem or are just not good enough.

  9. Bard

    Feb 22, 2019, 15:18 #113280

    Brilliant Peter W. Job done. Very little to say about the game. If Dick can seriously get a tune out of Ozil then he will have done a good job. Ozil's advisers need to get hold of him. He may well screw a fortune out of Arsenal but if he does he is toast as a player, it's China or nowhere. You're a long time retired and the way he plays he could easily play into his 30's with the right attitude. He certainly wont be playing for a better club than Arsenal. The ball's in youre court Mesut.

  10. John F

    Feb 22, 2019, 13:17 #113279

    Laughed at that Peter ,he is probably phoning UEFA now.

  11. peter wain

    Feb 22, 2019, 12:34 #113278

    Bet Kroenke is sick wants to know why Arsenal have not got a ban

  12. peter wain

    Feb 22, 2019, 12:34 #113277

    The worrying thing was Bate as bad as they were did create chances

  13. John F

    Feb 22, 2019, 12:02 #113276

    One of those games where you get no credit when you win but pelters if you lose.I thought Ozil did ok ,he laid on a couple of decent chances that weren't taken up.Some news to warm the cockles,Chelsea have been given a 2 window transfer ban.