So, in the end, Arsenal managed to overturn a woeful first leg performance against BATE Borisov at the Emirates. An early own goal from Volkov after just 4 minutes helped calm the nerves of the home crowd.
Mustafi made it 2-0 before halftime with a powerful header from Xhaka’s corner. Then in the second 45, Borisov tailed off, offering very little in the way of attack.
An injury to Koscielny in the 56th minute gave Sokratis the opportunity to make his first appearance since his ankle injury. He met Xhaka’s corner to put the result beyond doubt. This wasn’t a fully firing Arsenal but they showed heart and desire to reach the last 16.
Here are the Player Ratings:
Cech – 5 – Nothing to do tonight but he did his bit in the first leg to keep Arsenal in the hunt. Semi-retirement party.
Lichsteiner – 6 – Did well with his forays going down the right, a clearance off the line in the first 45 but I still don’t understand why he is preferred to Jenkinson.
Mustafi – 7 – Steady in defence, took his goal well. Fans will have no complaints with his contribution.
Koscielny – 6 – Never really stood out from the pack, managed to stick with it but also nearly gifted the opposition by failing to clear the ball. Went off with a suspected calf strain and was replaced by Sokratis.
Monreal – 5 – Not been the same since his injury, got forward okay but looks vulnerable on occasion in defence. His career may be heading to the crossroads.
Guendouzi – 8 – The youngster is developing faster than anyone expected. Man of the match for Arsenal again. His work rate and desire are never in question, showed some confident and punishing forward passes. Involved in the majority of the build up play, a king in the making.
Xhaka -7 – Bright performance, willing to shoot on sight and wasn’t far off. Two corners, two goals. Good support in attack, lacked control after an incident that involved Monreal.
Iwobi – 7 – Continues to work hard despite all the negativity towards him. Always pushing forward, always a threat. On any other day, he may have botched up a goal.
Ozil – 7 – The undeniable space finder. Able to see things that aren’t on everyone else’s radar. Nice touches and combined well with Mkhitaryan and Iwobi. Needs more game time to get the best out of him but that’s a different story. Still the class act.
Mkhitaryan – 7 – Some really nice work during the game and at times looked like he was going to make all the difference. Steady and assured but one senses there’s more to come. Another that needs game time.
Aubameyang – 7 – Deserved a goal but wasn’t able to capitalise on his own excellent work. Cross from the right sent Volkov into panic mode and ended up as an own goal. Came close on more than one occasion. He needs better service.
Sokratis – 7 – Always willing, took his goal well. Good to see him back in the fray.
Torriera – 6 – Made things safe. Tidy and compact as always with the appetite of a lion.
Denis Suarez – 5 – No time to do anything, looked disconnected from the game. Emery needs to give the guy time in the pitch or send him back to Barcelona.
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