It is going to be an absolute cracker of a game tomorrow, as the Gunners take on Bate Borisov at the Emirates for the second leg of the round of 32 games in the Europa League.
The first leg ended in favor of Bate the underdogs, who with the help of Igor Stasevich’s 7th assist in the competition (3 assists more than anyone else in the competition), Stanislav Dragun’s solitary goal, handed the Belarusian side their biggest win in their club’s history and also a 0-1 aggregate heading into tomorrow’s game.
Stuff of fairytales no doubt for Bate Borisov, whom are currently champions of the Belarusian league, having ended their season in December on top of the table.
The Belarusian champions will no doubt come to the Emirates still pumped with the elixir of winning the first leg against the Gunners.
Their resolve will be further strengthened by the compulsory absence of striker Alexandre Lacazette, who got sent off with a straight red card for lashing out with an elbow on Aleksander Filipovic for ruffling his feathers.
That said, the question is; “Do they have what it takes to win at the Emirates? “.
Logically speaking… Absolutely not!
For starters, judging by the mood in the Arsenal camp ever since the first leg, it is clear that Bate are primed for a proper “English welcome in the pubs”.
From the training pictures, courtesy of the club’s official site, to the press conference by Unai Emery and skipper Laurent Koscienly, it is clear that adversity in recent times has helped the group to heal and focus on the task ahead. This certainly can’t be good news for the visitors.
Unai Emery has specifically hinted on the inclusion of Mesut Özil in the side, whom he claims has trained as expected with the side for the past week.
Here are quotes from the press conference;
On what he wants from his players…
“For us tomorrow is a very important match, after the first result we must manage the 90 minutes and also know if we need more minutes after the 90 minutes it can be in our mind with the preparation to do that.
It is also very important to play in our stadium with our supporters, and we need their support for this match and I hope there is a big atmosphere for us. Together, with their support, I know our players can play and give their all.”
On our approach to the game…
“We need to find a good balance between attacking and defending. I think they will play with a deep block and wait to play on the counter-attack. We need to be focused on our tradition when we lose the ball, to try to win back the ball as soon as possible.
We don’t want to give them chances to have a free-kick or corner. Afterwards, it’s about us being efficient in their box to score some goals. We don’t know if we will score early in the game or later, but we need to continue to play with calmness and focus.
We can have some chances like we had in the first leg, but we need to be more efficient in both boxes.”
Laurent Koscienly .
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Possible Lineups for Arsenal Vs Bate Borisov Game:
Petr Cech (GK), Mustafi (CB), Sokratis (CB), Koscienly (CB), Kolasinac (LWB), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (RWB), Lucas Torreira (DM), Xhaka (CM), Mesut Özil (AM), Nketiah (ST), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (CF)
Coach: Unai Emery
FORMATION: 3-5-2 Hybrid
Bate Borisov Team:
Scherbitski, Rios, Volkov, Filipenko, Filipović, Baha, Drahun, Hleb, Milić, Skavysh, Stasevich.
Coach: Aleksey Baga
Prediction: With Arsenal’s form at home in all competitions and the preparedness of the team, this is a tie leaning more to their advantage inspite of the lone goal deficit, hence a 4-1 victory in favour of hosts is the likely outcome.