Arsenal concluded their final bit of action in the Europa League group stage with a 6-0 thrashing over BATE Borisov, crowning a campaign that sees them top Group H ahead of Red Star Belgrade.
First-half goals from Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere set the tone for what was to be a dominant Arsenal display at a semi-filled Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud and Mohamed Elneny added the finishing touches to the Gunners’ 700th win under Arsène Wenger’s command, as Arsenal signed off in style ahead of the knockout stages of the Europa League.
For the clash, the North Londoners welcomed back David Ospina to the European scene after a spell on the sidelines, as well as Walcott, who’d captain Wenger’s men on the night.
A quick start saw Walcott piece together a move with Giroud for Elneny to volley at goal early doors, as the Egyptian struck the outside of the post.
Walcott emerged in a dangerous position again in the 11th minute before being brought down inside the box, but a Debuchy follow-up was swift enough to beat the calls for a penalty and find its way into the back of the net, as Arsenal raced to a 1-0 lead.
With BATE Borisov struggling to make waves at the other end, Denis Scherbitskiy kept the Belarus outfit alive in the contest with two important saves, firstly denying an own goal before Walcott could near the Gunners’ second from close range.
It looked like it was only a matter of time before Arsenal grabbed their second and that was exactly how it turned out to be, as Francis Coquelin spread the play wide for Welbeck to attack the BATE Borisov backline before Walcott could pick up the spares and strike across goal in the 36th minute.
Walcott could’ve had yet more joy in the 40th minute when his first-time-shot was cleared off the line at the near-post, with Arsenal clearly on top.
Wilshere then made full use of the space afforded to him inside the area to turn, shoot and bag his first Arsenal goal for three seasons, as the hosts cruised into half-time with a 3-0 lead.
Fresh again out of the blocks, Walcott honed in on goal with the chance to set Welbeck up in the 51st minute but it’d be Dzyanis Palyakow who’d do the ex-Manchester United forward’s job when thrashing his botched clearance past Scherbitskiy.
The BATE Borisov shot-stopper was then tasked with stopping a spot-kick in the 63rd minute after Nemanja Milunovic caught Walcott’s leg in a tangle.
Giroud was the man elected to take the penalty, making no mistake from 12 yards to amplify the score to 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
Elneny stepped up to put Arsenal six goals ahead, as Wilshere’s pass provided the former FC Basel midfielder with the angle to brush a shot into the far corner just inside the box.
The hosts eventually settled for the half-a-dozen goals put past BATE Borisov. Attentions now turn to Monday afternoon’s Europa League draw, where Arsenal will find out who they’ve been paired up with in the round of last 32.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Starting XI: David Ospina (6) – Mathieu Debuchy (7), Rob Holding (7), Calum Chambers (7), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (7) – Francis Coquelin (7), Mohamed Elneny (7), Jack Wilshere (8) – Theo Walcott (9), Olivier Giroud (7), Danny Welbeck (6)
Subs: Reiss Nelson (6), Eddie Nketiah (/), Joe Willock (/)