Arsenal master Bate Borisov 3-0 – Player Ratings

February 22, 2019

Mesut to start – thank funk for that.

First Half

In need of a goal, the team started really well. Wobbly had a chance to shoot immediately. Only a few minutes had gone when Bate scored – in their own net, the defenders confused – not realising that, since it was Auba crossing the ball, nobody would be in the middle.

Frustratingly the foot then came off the pedal. Either that or Bate realised that an away goal was their best chance and upped their game. One in the side netting and then one off the line cleared by Lichtsteiner. As usual Arsenal allowed the poorest of opposition good chances.

Gradually we regained superiority. Xhaka had a cracking pot shot. Just before half time and after a succession of short corners which produced diddly squat, Xhaka planted one into the perfect spot for Shirley to fool the defender and then get in front of his man, bulleting a close range header for 2-0. Superb celebration from the master carpenter!

Second half

After a bit of Keystone cop defending in the first few minutes after the break and a few heart flutters, the result was never really in doubt once that half time malaise had worn off.

Papa majestically finished off another Granit corner launched right into the mix. Shirley put the goalie off and the big Greek planted the ball into a gaping net with the back of his swede.

Auba struggled to find a goal but he could have played all night and not scored. Saving them for Southampton on Sunday, I hope. Mesut scuffed a relatively simple volley with the goal at his mercy but the three goals would have to suffice, and they did.


Job done. Relatively straightforward in the end. Bate had two decent chances to get the away goal they craved but we really should have had more to show for such dominant superiority. An OG and two headed goals from corners from 22 efforts on goal did prove enough to put us in the last 16 though.

The draw for the round of 16 is today at 12 noon GMT. There are a few teams we’d  miss ideally, though we’ll have to beat some good teams if we’re going to win it, no doubt.


Cech – nowt to do … 7

Lichtsteiner – looked more like his experienced professional self against the Belarusians … 7

Mustafi – excellent header – relatively untroubled throughout and even showed some composure on the ball … 7

Koscielny – class again – hope his injury isn’t too serious … 8

Monreal – battled manfully – love his commitment to the cause … 7

Xhaka – available throughout – passing excellent – went a little anonymous when moved forward to accommodate Torreira but two assists and plenty of great work – loved how he defended Nacho from the thuggery near the end… 8

Guendouzi – enjoyed himself – he’s going to be some player if he continues progressing at this rate … 7

Ozil – class – his movement is incredible – mind you, the opposition weren’t up to much … 7

Mkhitaryan – a bit lightweight – he really should be able to shine in these sort of games … 6

Aubameyang – poor Auba – a goal was never going to come, nevertheless he competed well and came deep when nothing was fed to him in the area – the dink over the keeper near the end should have ended up in the back of the net … 7

Iwobi – always a threat, just lacked that killer final ball …7


Sokratis – he was good enough that Kos wasn’t missed and he also popped up with the decisive third … 7

Torreira – not sure why he was brought on for Matteo, contributed little of note – a run out, I suppose … 6

Suarez – late sub to give him a run also – inconclusive … 6


Emery – got the job done – picked Mesut for a game against lowly opposition and it was the right decision – lovely heartfelt goal celebrations … 8

Wagner – should go back to Huddersfield … 6



A big chunk of our season is on the line today – Bate preview

February 21, 2019

First and foremost, please remember that kick off is 17:55pm UK time today. We wouldn’t want Micky rolling up at 7.30pm wondering what the team news is. 🙂

Last week in Belarus was dire, there’s no getting around it. A shapeless, ineffective Arsenal team, admittedly hampered by an appalling pitch surface, delivered a performance of virtually zero quality.

That game has been and gone – nothing can be done about it. If we play to our strengths tonight and score enough goals to get us through to the Round of 16, it will be consigned to the past as a deep and distant memory. Simple, isn’t it?

Invoking the spirit of Big Raddy in 1970

Team News

There has been a bit of a Mugabe media lockdown at Arsenal over the last week. Probably best, since any attempt to appease supporters with ‘we’ll strive to put it right’ platitudes would only be met with abuse. The only place to make amends is on the pitch.

The team news made public so far is that Aaron is fit and in full training. Big Sok is also nearing a return – whether it’s in the Europa or for Sunday’s Prem game against Southampton, we shall see.

Maybe Unai’s press  conference will tell us more.

Press conference update – Mesut has been training well this week (?) and Ainsley M-N missed Wednesday training with sickness. 

Rambo’s return will definitely help to cover that creative shortfall we saw in the away leg. Could Mesut find favour again and both of them play? Doubtful perhaps, but could work as long as both don’t attempt to play in the same position..

One thing is for certain, Lacazette will not be featuring due to the Bate lad running into his elbow, which leaves Aubameyang  as our main threat.

Possible team

………………………………. Cech

Licht (if no A.M-N) … Shirley … Kos … Nacho

……………………..Terrier ………….Granit


…………….. Micki ……… Auba …….. Wobbly

As far as possible game scenarios go, the only way extra time and penalties will happen is if we are 1-0 up at 90 minutes. If Bate score first, we will have to score three times to counter their away goal.

In fact, a Bate goal at any point in the match might give cause for concern (unless we’re over the hill and faraway by that stage). Perhaps dead balls are the most likely source for the Belarusians.

Having said that, this game isn’t really about how Bate play but more about the level of performance Arsenal can produce. As LBG said, three up at half-time and we’ll be laughing.

Your score predictions in the comments, please.


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Bate Borisov

February 20, 2019

Last week in Belarus is still a very raw memory. On a ploughed field of a pitch Arsenal had a miserable night. Controlling or passing the ball with any efficiency was very difficult. Stanislaw Drahun’s goal on the stroke of half-time was just reward for Bate’s efforts. Alexandre Lacazette let his frustration boil over when he elbowed Aleksandar Filipovic late on, receiving a straight red card. Hopefully his absence from the home tie will not be too costly.

Bate Borisov’s away record in Europe includes all sorts of Champions League and Europa qualifying games along with group games in both competitions, plus a sprinkling of InterToto matches. In other words, it includes matches against a wide range of opposition in terms of quality.

Bate Borisov all European away games ——-

This is the 3rd time they’ve reached the Round of 32 in the Europa Cup. On the previous two occasions they were narrowly knocked out by PSG in 2011 on away goals, and in 2013 by Fenerbahce with an aggregate score of only 1-0.

The only other time we’ve played Bate Borisov at home was last season in the Europa League group stage.

Group H – 7th December 2017 – Arsenal 6 Bate 0

Neither Jack Wilshere nor Theo Walcott had started a Premier League game for Arsenal in the 2017/8 season before being given a starting berth against Bate in December. With the group wrapped up, Arsene Wenger could afford to field a largely second string selection.

Mathieu Debuchy opened the scoring with a thumping angled drive (a goal Fred remembers well, since he was, allegedly, in the upper tier that night).

Theo scored a simple second before Jack smacked in a similar goal to The Boosh’s but from the other side of the area. An own goal, a pen from big Ollie and a superb first time curler from Mo Elneny sealed a comfortable win.

Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Let’s hope Bate travel as badly this time around, but with a goal start, they might prove a sterner test.


Embarrassing in Belarus – Player Ratings

February 15, 2019

First Half

Loads of possession – Mkhitaryan one-on-one and a Lacazette header perhaps should have been dispatched. Bate look a poor side but still had a couple of good efforts on goal. Simple goal for them when it came. Poor.

Second Half

Lots more possession with very little to show for it. The number of times there was a poorly weighted pass was ridiculous. Yes, it was a terrible pitch, but really?

‘Fancy coming back to mine?’

Auba came on with us needing a goal and then played in a withdrawn inside right position. Utterly ridiculous – get him hanging round the goal or leave him in his sleeping bag.


As fgg says, we should win next week by a few, so maybe this isn’t as bad as it seems right now, but playing against a team which isn’t even fit as their season doesn’t start until March, we looked toothless and almost completely ineffective. Oh, if only we had a player who can play that killer pass to open up the bus!


Cech – blocked a couple – picked the ball out of the back of his net … 5

Mustafi – not really required to do a huge amount of defending – passing very average … 5

Koscielny – slightly above average in a poor team performance … 6

Monreal – again, not much to do against a team content to defend … 5

Maitland-Niles – saw a fair amount of the ball and didn’t really achieve much with it … 4

Kolasinac – his one decent cross found Laca marginally offside according to the lino – dreadful attempt at goal when the ball came back to him on the corner of the 6 yard box … 4

Xhaka – looked rusty – silly booking – didn’t add much … 4

Guendouzi – telegraphs his passing often leading to interceptions … 4

Iwobi – a game made for him but somehow he produced very little of note …5

Mkhitaryan – pretty anonymous when we needed him to take up the creative mantle … 4

Lacazette – Frustrated with the quality of chances created for him but lacked sharpness when half chances came – in some ways the elbow into the chin of the Bate player was for all of us – him missing from the second leg may work out ok if Auba gets a hat-trick … 5


Aubameyang – the lad is a striker not a withdrawn midfielder – no efforts on goal in over 20 minutes … 4

Torreira – we needed something different than the Terrier offers – his 30 yard effort at the end was laughable … 5

Suarez – at first sight looks a typical Wenger signing, lightweight midfielder – might have been better to have left plan A (the Wardrobe cut-back) on the pitch … 4


Emery – not the result he or the Arsenal supporters were after – having neither Ramsey or Ozil on the pitch seems even more ridiculous now … 3


Bate Borisov – In Brief

February 14, 2019

Rumours abound that Mesut hasn’t travelled which, considering he was announced as back in full training and appeared in a photo of Wednesday morning’s training (below), are quite frankly, ludicrous. Is it some sort of bizarre Mexican standoff – who blinks first, Emery or Ozil?  Quite ridiculous.

Stuart MacFarlane

Ramsey has a slight problem with his knee also, so misses out ( 🙂 ) – probably aggravated when he sunk to his knees celebrating the signing of his gigantic pre-contract agreement with Juve.

Granit has travelled, as has Auba, whereas the only youngster in the squad appears to be Eddie.

It’s difficult to imagine the Borisov arena, jammed to the rafters with 13,000 people, being too intimidating an atmosphere. There’ll be no goat-slaughtering in the centre circle or ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners but, then again, if the home team score first, we’ll need to keep faith in the team’s mental strength.

A good result in Belarus will make next week’s return at the Emirates all the easier. We have no game in between as it’s FA Cup weekend, so there isn’t really any reason not to play a strong team.

Having said that, it might still be prudent to leave Auba on the bench wrapped up in his sleeping bag as he was poorly last week. The team functions better with two more versatile wide attackers anyway. Perhaps Denis Suarez might get a full starting debut, though Micki and Alex Iwobi will also want to start after their minor successes against Huddersfield.

The defence looks so much stronger with Kos as the first name on the teamsheet.  with Kola and Ainsley as wingbacks – why not?

In midfield why not have Xhaka and Torreira as the double pivot and allow Curly a role further forward to allow more interchange with Iwobi/Micki/Suarez (perm 2 from 3).

The Bate Borisov manager is Alyaksey Baha. He has worked his way up the coaching ranks at the club since 2011, finally becoming head coach in June 2018.

Sightseeing in Barysaw


Holy Resurrection Cathedral – perhaps Mesut should have gone and paid a visit here


State museum complete with a Napoleonic cannon outside

Winning the Europa Cup still seems our most likely route to next season’s  Champions League but winning a cup competition always needs a fair amount of good fortune.

Still, if we can’t get through the Round of 32, we certainly don’t deserve CL qualification by the backdoor.


chas (BR is on manoeuvres)

Arsenal FC – Our away record against FC Bate Borisov

February 13, 2019

FC BATE Borisov is a Belarusian football team from the city of Barysaw. The club competes in the Belarusian Premier League. The club’s home stadium is Borisov Arena, which was opened in 2014 it has a capacity of 13,126. BATE is an acronym of Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics.

The team was founded in 1973 and then disbanded in 1984. Prior to being disbanded they won the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic league three times (1974, 1976 and 1979), the club was re-established in 1996.

They are the reigning champions and are the league’s most successful club with 15 titles, 13 won consecutively. The club has also won three Belarusian Cups and four Belarusian Super Cups. BATE is the only Belarusian team to have qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (2008–09, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15 and 2015–16) and one of two to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League (2009–10, 2010–11, 2017–18 and 2018–19), along with Dinamo Minsk.

The following comes from a stadium guide and is not a great reason to travel.

The Borisov Arena is located on the edge of the city surrounded by forests, office parks, and some residential housing. There is not much to see or do near the stadium so little reason to head over long before the match. Barysaw is a rather sleepy city so there isn’t much to do elsewhere either, but you’ll be able to find a few places to eat or drink in central Barysaw around Revolution Avenue or around Gagarina street near the coach station. There are barely any hotels in Barysaw so your choice is either to go for one of the very basic options or pick one of the apartment rentals around the city.

The alternative (as most of the travelling Gooners seem to be doing) is to stay in Minsk. In fact Arsenal FC have arranged coaches for fans to make the 70km journey. Coaches will depart from Lenin street (metro station Pershamayskaya) opposite the Minsk Concert Hall.

Minsk Concert Hall


Belarusian Premier League
Winners (15): 1999, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Belarusian Cup
Winners (3): 2006, 2010, 2015

Belarusian Super Cup
Winners (7): 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Belarusian Second League

Winners: 1996
Belarusian Soviet era champions
Winners (3): 1974, 1976, 1979

The only occasion we have played against Bate in Belarus was in the 2017/18 Europa League when we won 4-2.

Thursday 28th September 2017 – FC Bate Borisov 2 Arsenal 4

Two early goals from Theo Walnutt and a close range header from Rob Holding gave the boys in powder blue a commanding lead. Bate sneaked one back before FFS Giroud sealed the win with a penalty just after half time. Bate’s second 20 minutes from time proved no more than a consolation. A 17 year-old Reiss Nelson impressed at right wing back.

I expect us to win – but then again we are the 2018/19 version of Arsenal so –?


Theo off the Naughty Step?

December 7, 2017

Welcome to Bate Borisov. We beat you at your noisy home ground and tonight you will admire our magnificent, state of the art stadium which is likely to be half-full. I expect you to lose again.

We have already topped the group, can’t do any better than that, so I expect to see a weakened team with another host of youngsters.  Shame for the Belarus champions who must have been thrilled to draw AFC  and expected to see Ozil, Sanchez, Ramsey etc instead they will get Eddie, Nelson and Maitland Niles, though whomever plays in the red and white they represent Arsenal and must give their best.


Another big night for Jack Wilshire who will be given the task of orchestrating the team, can he/will he achieve his potential or will be become another multi-millionaire wasting his talents at West Ham? I wish him well.

My Team:


Chambers   Holding   Elneny

Debuchy    Nelson    Willock   Maitland-Niles


Walcott   Giroud

Walcott has to regain some confidence and form, he is a very good player; he can have a future at AFC IF he finds consistent form. Let us not forget that he was second top scorer last season with 19. Trouble is that it is a Big If.

Apparently we have sold over 50k tickets for tonight which I find surprising.  We shall see… Hopefully, Eddie will get some minutes to liven up the crowd in the second half.

We can and should win this.



Journey into the Unkown

September 28, 2017

I have to admit to knowing very little about Bate Borisov – I didn’t even know they were based in Belarus, in fact I don’t even know where Belarus is! But, if they are in the Europa then they have to be decent opposition!

I have read that Hleb started his career at Bate, that they have won the Belarus League the last 11 years running, Their ground holds 13k and will be filled with Arsenal fans because Belarus has many Arsenal fan clubs.

Beyond that ….??

So, this PM will concentrate on the away team. How many goals have Arsenal conceded in their last 4 games? I will tell you. None. Given  the start we had with 8 goals leaked in just 3 games, this is huge. Some may say that it is down to good fortune, fortunate refereeing decisions and poor opposition but the fact remains, we have gone 360+ minutes without conceding,

This is huge.

We are wonderful attacking players, so many that International first teamers cannot even get on the bench, but defenders? And defensive organisation?

And midfield control? Have we just been lucky or has Mr Wenger found a way to set up his team to stop the massive gaps exposed by Leicester and Liverpool?

Is the absence of Ozil and the resurgence of Ramsey just co-incidence?

3 games in 6 days means rotationand a chance to judge the quality of the squad.

Even allowing for over half the team being reserves we should still win tonight (though I hesitate to predict a victory as I usually put a bok on the team). A front line including Walcott, Sanchez and Giroud is potent.

My Team:


Holding    BFG     Monreal

Bellerin   Maitland- Niles     Wilshire     Elneny

Walcott   Giroud     Sanchez

Perhaps it would be good to start with Ryan Nelson but given Holdings frailty aon the right it makes sense to give him the security of Bellerin.

6 p.m. kick off (7.00 CET), ideal, wish there were more.

Our first away fixture in the Europa. It would be great to start with a win … Let it be So.