Arsenal have drawn BATE Borisov in the Europa League Round of 32, after facing the Belarussian side in last year’s competition.
Arsenal have faced BATE Borisov twice before, with both matches taking place in the 2017/18 Europa League group stages. The Gunners won 4-2 away, and 6-0 at home, for a 10-2 aggregate scoreline. However, the knockout stages always provide a different dynamic, so Unai Emery shouldn’t take the tie for granted.
Additionally, very few of the Arsenal goalscorers from last season will be around to bag another goal on this occasion. Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott (x3), Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud (x2) have all left the club. Meanwhile, Rob Holding is injured. Only Mohamed Elneny has the opportunity to add to his tally.
That shouldn’t be a big problem for Arsenal though, who scored 12 goals in this season’s group stage, conceding just two. BATE didn’t have such a dominant run in the group, scoring nine but conceding nine as well.
It won’t be long now until we get our yearly interview with Alexander Hleb, who plays for BATE, telling us how he regrets leaving Arsenal, and so on. He’ll surely be up for the tie, with a desire to put on a show for his former supporters.
The away leg takes place on Thursday 14th February and the home match is on Wednesday 20th February, so it doesn’t clash with Chelsea’s home match on the Thursday.