Arsenal 6 BATE Borisov 0: Gunners hit six in Europa League rout as Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere stake claim

James Benge
AFP/Getty Images

Arsenal racked up the goals in front of a half-empty Emirates Stadium as they hammered BATE Borisov 6-0 in the Europa League.

Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Mohamed Elneny were among the scorers as the Gunners netted six in European competition for only the sixth time in their history.

Arsene Wenger named a remarkably strong side for what was effectively a dead rubber, Arsenal having already secured top spot in Group H, with a frontline of Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Walcott, Giroud and a first fielding of a back four since April 10.

A truer reflection of the game’s importance came from the crowd rather than the Arsenal XI. Scarcely a quarter of the Emirates’ 60,000 capacity was full as fans opted to avoid the December chill. Official figures recorded 54,468 tickets sold, though it is understood that there were less than 30,000 in attendance.

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However, those that stayed away missed something of a treat.

Debuchy had not found the net since December 2014 but looked a natural finisher when he opened the scoring with a powerful drive across Denis Scherbitski’s goal after Theo Walcott had been felled in the box.

For a player whose Arsenal career seemed over when Wenger publically admonished him a year ago, the goal constituted a redemptive moment both he and his team-mates revelled in.

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BATE needed a win to have any hope of making the knockout stages but lacked the quality in midfield to impose themselves on Arsenal, who tore through their visitors at well. Denis Scherbitski made a string of telling interventions to keep the Belarusians in the tie, at least until the 37th minute.

Then a driving run by Welbeck into the area was only stopped by a diving BATE defender, who deflected the ball into the path of Walcott to slot home.

Like Debuchy, Wilshere had been enduring a goal drought for Arsenal, but 928 days after last finding the net struck in some style when evading the defence with quick feet before stroking the ball into the top corner.

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Arsenal did not lay off in the second half and had their fourth when Denis Polyakov turned a Walcott cross into his own net. Once more Wilshere was at the heart of the move, his perfectly weighted through ball unleashing the Gunners captain to force the own goal.

BATE’s generosity didn’t end there as Nemanja Milunovic clumsily tripped Walcott. Giroud was forced to retake his penalty after encroachment into the area by the hosts and visitors but on both occasions made no mistake with a powerful effort into the right hand corner.

The best of the goals was yet to come as Wilshere teed up Elneny curled a peach of a strike into the far corner, adding gloss to a stylish performance by Wenger’s B team.

Their only complaint might be that the paucity of quality opposition means this display did little to enhance anyone’s prospect of making Arsenal’s Premier League XI.

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