Six of the best for Arsenal

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 0 5,084

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Walcott scored once and created three more on Thursday. AFP

Six of the best for Arsenal

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 0 5,084

Just 30,000 people turned up to watch Arsenal’s final Europa League group game on Thursday, with those not in attendance missing out on a dominant performance from Arsene Wenger’s men as they swept past BATE Borisov.

Goals from Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Mohamed Elneny and an own-goal from Denis Polykov helped the ‘Gunners’ ease to victory against the Belarusians.

Wenger named an experienced side for the game, despite having already sealed top spot in Group H and he was almost rewarded early on as Mohamed Elneny hit the post from the edge of the box after meeting Olivier Giroud’s knock-down.

The home side weren’t made to wait too long for the breakthrough through and went ahead after 11 minutes through a surprise source. Theo Walcott’s advance looked to have been halted by a hand, but before Arsenal could appeal Mathieu Debuchy pounced on the loose ball to crash a strike into the far corner from the edge of the box.

Arsenal were a class above throughout and it was a case of when, rather than if they would extend their lead.

Walcott went close to doing just that after 26 minutes as he was the first to react to Giroud’s header, but Denis Scherbitsky in the BATE goal did well to deny him.

The England man didn’t have to wait too long for a goal though, firing across the BATE goalkeeper eight minutes before half-time after Danny Welbeck’s advance had been halted by a defender.

Walcott almost had another seconds later as Polyakov had to be alert to clear off the line, but such was Arsenal’s domination that they still managed to extend their lead to three before the half.

It was Jack Wilshere’s turn this time, the midfielder impressed throughout, displaying an array of passes and looking to get forward at every opportunity.

It was that adventurous nature that saw him pop up on the edge of the BATE box in the 44th minute to meet a pull-back from the left and the playmaker duly cut inside his man before firing powerfully into the far corner.

Arsenal went into the break with a commanding lead and continued their domination into the second half.

With 53 minutes gone, Wilshere set Debuchy away down the right with another incisive pass and the Frenchman’s cross was smashed into his own net from ten yards by the hapless Polyakov to make it four.

The home side were taking pot-shots from all angles at this point as other players looked to get themselves on the scoresheet and Giroud was quickly presented with a golden opportunity to do just that.

Walcott was felled in the box by Alexei Rios and the France international took care of the resulting spot-kick, firing past Scherbitsky at the second attempt after seeing his first effort ruled out for encroachment.

With time ticking away Mohamed Elneny made it six with perhaps the goal of the night (Though Debuchy would have something to say about that). Giroud jinked past his man on the edge of the box and fed Wilshere. The playmaker could have shot but instead opted to find Elneny on the left and the Egyptian curled the ball into the far top corner to extend Arsenal’s lead to six.

It was a comfortable evening’s work for Arsenal, who will be eagerly awaiting the draw for the knockout stages.

Matt Morley

Matt Morley

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