Arsenal suffered a frustrating and rather embarrassing 1-0 defeat to BATE Borisov in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-32 clash on Thursday.
Though they still have the second leg to redeem themselves, Unai Emery’s side couldn’t have put themselves in a much worse position than the one they’ve ended up in.
The Gunners failed to score an away goal, which could be their downfall if Borisov score just one at the Emirates (leaving Arsenal needing three). They also got their second top scorer and top assist provider for the season suspended for the return fixture.
The problems were largely down to the system Emery chose to employ, rather than individual faults, but with that in mind, let’s have a look at our player ratings for the fixture.
1Goalkeeper and Centre-Backs
Petr Čech 5
Čech perhaps could’ve done better for the goal, as it went right over his head, although it was from close range and had a lot of pace on it. Other than that, he made a few decent saves when called upon, which wasn’t particularly often, and his distribution was very good.
Shkodran Mustafi 3
Mustafi didn’t have a good game, but he was also one of the biggest victims of the system Unai Emery was employing. He’s not good enough in possession to make anything happen bar playing it out to Maitland-Niles or back to Koscielny.
It was pointless having him on the pitch, and his performance highlighted how wrong it was to go into a game like this with three at the back.
Laurent Koscielny 6
Koscielny made a couple of important tackles/interceptions and generally read Borisov’s attacks pretty well. He also won six aerial duels out of the seven he contested.
The Frenchman had the opposite problem to Mustafi, where he didn’t have any chance to utilise his ability on the ball. He was stuck between two centre-backs playing short passes to one and then the other all game. It would’ve been much better for Arsenal to have him as the right centre-back in a back four.
Nacho Monreal 4
Monreal was better on the ball than Mustafi, but again slightly inhibited by the fact he wasn’t playing his best position on the left. Off the ball, he seemed very vulnerable, and all of Borisov’s most dangerous attacks came from getting in behind him.
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