07-Dec-2017 20:37:12 | The Guardian
30 min Wilshere goes down as only Wilshere does, clutching his ankle and unmoved after a heavy challenge. It looks alarming. It’s not. He’s up and sparking another move that ends with Walcott crossing to no one in the middle.
28 min Arsenal have a free-kick in a very dangerous position. Walcott is over it. The wall jumps and Walcott hits it underneath the jumpers, Coutinho style, but it flies wide of the far post. Not quite enough curl from the instep.
25 min Great save from Walcott. Giroud nods down and Walcott is five yards out. It’s a great point-blank save from Scherbitski.
24 min Another lovely pass over the top from Wilshere brings a desperate header out of a Bate defender to prevent Giroud getting in. The keeper palms away the attempted clearing header.
23 min A lovely pass from Wilshere puts Welbeck clear of the defence down the left. The keeper senses danger and comes flying out, getting enough in the way of the first-time strike to stop the danger. That could have been disastrous for Bate but they escape. Welbeck should have done better there.
20 min Wilshere is playing well, finding space around the edge of the box and looking to take the ball on the half turn and make things happen. Bate are struggling to cope with Arsenal’s slick passing at the moment.
17 min Nice football from Elneny and Wilshere sets Maitland-Niles free down the left. His cross is blocked for a corner, which comes to nothing. Volodjko is booked for a slightly desperate lunge on Debuchy
15 min More pressure from Arsenal results in a corner and panic in the Bate box. Scherbitski flaps and Bate escape this time, but the confidence is flowing through Arsenal now.
That was really quite something from the forgotten Frenchman. Waslcott caused a bit of nuisance on the right of the penalty area after a lofted ball from Chambers. He was almost fouled in the box but the ball dropped to Debuchy near the apex of the box. Running on to it from the right-back position Debuchy struck it first time on the half volley and rifled it into the far top corner.
What a goal this is!
8 min Bate have started brightly and when the ball falls to Ivanic on the edge of the box he is quick to have a pop. It’s on his left foot on the half volley but Ospina watches it go over the bar.
5 min The commentators say this is guaranteed to be the lowest ever attendance at the Emirates. The previous lowest was 44,000 or thereabouts. How much would you pay to watch a Europa League dead rubber. A friend of mine was offering a pair for £40 total. They did sell.
2 min Elneny hits the post. I was almost eating my words. A Walcott flick on was knocked back by Giroud and Elneny swung his left foot at the ball. It was an awkward connection from the edge of the box but hit the outside of the post.
1 min Peep peep! Bate kick off in yellow with Arsenal in the traditional red and white. The atmosphere is low key.
An email! “Personally I find Elneny quite inspiring,” writes Michael Whelan. “Maybe I can still make it.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or for the fifth time, equalling Lionel Messi’s record. A free subscription to The Fiver for anyone who can guess which players came second and third…
Related: Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or to equal Lionel Messi’s record
Coventry has been named UK City of Culture 2021. Maybe there’s hope for the Coquelin-Elneny axis yet?
So Wenger has put his faith in experience for this dead rubber and dropped Nelson and Willock to the bench from his usual Europa League XI. A centre midfield pairing of Coquelin and Elneny is about as uninspiring as modern football gets, but Welbeck and Chambers continue their comebacks from injuries.
Arsenal Ospina, Debuchy, Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Elneny, Wilshere, Walcott, Giroud, Welbeck. Subs Macey, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom, Nelson, Nketiah, Sheaf, Willock.
Bate Scherbitski, Rios, Polyakov, Milunovic, Maksim Volodjko, Berezkin, Dragun, Gordeichuk, Ivanic, Stasevich, Rodionov. Subs Chichkan, Yablonskiy, Buljat, Signevich, Tuominem, Baha, Gvilia.
Everton are currently 2-0 up courtesy of Ademola Lookman’s brilliance. You can follow the last half an hour of that game with Nick Miller …
Related: Apollon Limassol v Everton: Europa League – live!
So here we are. Arsenal’s long (in miles at least), successful and at times mind-crushingly dull journey through the Europa League group stage ends here with an Emirates showdown that matters only to the team from Belarus. Arsène Wenger’s side are already through as group winners but Bate can still join them in the knockout phase, if they can snatch a win while Red Star and Köln cancel each other out in Belgrade.
For Wenger, the tournament he did everything in his power to avoid for so long has proved surprisingly useful this season. He’s been able to blood young talents such as Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah, while giving the the elder statesmen who have fallen out of favour just enough game time to keep them from banging down his door. Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere have not started a Premier League match between them this season but have all had their moments in the Europa League.