Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press
Arsenal waltzed past BATE Borisov in their final match of the 2017-18 UEFA Europa League group stages, beating the Belarussians 6-0.
The Gunners put on a show in the first half and took a three-goal lead through Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere. Denis Polyakov added an own goal early in the second half, and Olivier Giroud converted a penalty to make it 5-0. Mohamed Elneny put the final score on the board.
Here’s a look at the teams, via bet365:
Arsenal XI: Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Coquelin, Wilshere, Walcott, Welbeck, Giroud.
BATE Borisov XI: Scherbitski, Volodko, Polyakov, Milunović, Rios, Dragun, Berezkin, Ivanić, Stasevich, Gordeychuk, Rodionov.
Arsenal’s squad of fringe players took the fight right to BATE, even though it was the visiting team who needed a win and the Gunners who had little to play for.
Elneny struck the post after a lovely passing move just minutes into the contest, and after a short stoppage due to an injured BATE player, Debuchy opened the scoring.
The Frenchman―who isn’t known for his nose for goals―unleashed a stunning shot from distance that gave goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski no chance and prompted this tweet from Bleacher Report’s own James McNicholas:
If Mathieu Debuchy scores in a dead rubber and no-one is there to see it, did he really score?
Giroud went close with a header shortly after, and both Danny Welbeck and Giroud put Scherbitski to work with excellent attempts―the latter aiming a header at a defender that nearly beat the stopper with the deflection.
Scherbitski had himself quite the opening 30 minutes with another miracle save on Giroud, sticking out a foot to keep his team in the contest, and Walcott aimed a low free-kick wide of the mark.
The Gunners remained the better team during the first half, even if they took their foot off the gas slightly, and Walcott doubled the advantage after a defender slid the ball away from Welbeck and into his feet.
The Mirror‘s John Cross took the time to praise the speedster:
John Cross @johncrossmirror
Eleven and a half years after joining Arsenal for £12m, Theo Walcott scores on a night he captains the team. 99 per cent of pros would give anything to have the career he has had.
Wilshere also got in on the fun after Scherbitski saved a long-term effort, trying his luck just a minute later and finding the back of the net this time around.
BetVictor couldn’t help themselves:
Jack Wilshere has scored for Arsenal.
GET HIM ON THE PLANE. https://t.co/68nWLdWfMs
Things got worse for the visitors early in the second half, when Polyakov completely misjudged a cross and powered the ball past his own goalkeeper. It was a spectacular finish, as described by James Olley of the London Evening Standard:
James Olley @JamesOlley
#afc 4-0 #BATE Not content with being awful, BATE decide to help Arsenal even further by scoring an own goal. Denis Polyakov converts Walcott’s cross into his own net with aplomb. “Could have done with you on Saturday, mate,” says one #afc fan near the press box.
All of Arsenal’s forwards wanted to get their name on the scoresheet, and Welbeck tested Scherbitski’s reflexes with a hard drive.
Giroud fired over from a promising position but finally got his goal from the penalty spot, even if he had to retake after his first conversion was ruled out for encroachment.
David Ospina was barely involved but had to make two saves shortly after the penalty, but the best chances still fell to Arsenal.
With 15 minutes left to play, Elneny finished off a great move set up by Wilshere, as the score continued to rise. Fortunately for the visitors, that would be the final goal.