BATE Borisov manager Aleksandr Yermakovich is expecting tonight’s Europa League meeting with Arsenal to be competitive, and revealed how keen he is to meet Arsene Wenger.

Yermakovich was speaking ahead of Thursday’s game about what he expects from the match up between the two clubs.

He said: “For the first time an English grandee came to visit us. It is very interesting how we will look on the background of such an eminent rival. I want to be competitive,” reports the Islington Gazette.

“It is clear that there are enough stars in Arsenal. But our rival is famous not only for some kind of individual action but a very high level of organization of the game in both attack and defence.

“I think it does not really matter who will play. Arsenal preaches the same football in all tournaments. It is clear that our rival is not simple but grand. But I believe in our guys. We have a fairly good experience of confronting top clubs.

“It is clear that Wenger is a respected coach, eminent. It will be pleasant to cross [swords] with him, to be in the role of opponents.”

The Borisov manager clearly has a lot of respect for the Gunners, and doesn’t plan to take the match lightly. Arsenal will have to do the same, as any team that has made it into European competition can give you a tough game if you aren’t ready for them, just look at the match away to Ludogorets last year.

In my opinion, Arsenal will probably field a fairly similar team to the one against FC Köln, meaning it will be mostly a line-up of experienced players, with the youth prospects mostly consigned to substitute appearances.

The most likely exception to this is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who started against Köln. Three of Arsenal’s central midfield played on Monday, while Francis Coquelin, Alex Iwobi and Santi Cazorla are injured, so only Jack Wilshere is rested and ready, meaning Maitland-Niles could be alongside him, I feel.

But clearly one or two youth players aren’t enough to make BATE Borisov believe they’re suddenly the favourites. Hopefully Arsenal don’t start to give them that impression when the match gets underway.