Arsenal started the better of the two sides and created a chance very early on. Sead Kolasinac was sent free and the Bosnian whipped in a devilish cross for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian though fired straight at the keeper.
As the game progressed, the Gunners retreated into their shell and rarely carved open their opponents. On the stroke of half time, they were done in by a set-piece routine, which was finished off by Stanislaw Drahun.
In the second half, Arsenal was expected to throw the kitchen sink at their Belarusian opponents, yet nothing of the sort materialized. The Gunners’ approach play was laboured and they never came close to scoring. To rub salt to their wounds, their star striker, Alexandre Lacazette was sent off in the 85th minute.
Here is a look at five talking points from the game:
#5 BATE Borisov hold firm to see off Arsenal
When the draw was made in December, many believed Arsenal to waltz past their Belarusian counterparts. Hence, what transpired on Thursday completely caught everyone off guard. However, one could argue that the result was warranted on the balance of play.
After weathering the visitors’ early storm, the home side slowly grew into the game. Their midfield closed Arsenal down quickly, and they also sorted out the space Kolasinac was being afforded time and again.
For long periods of the game, the hosts played with nine men behind the ball with their striker acting as the out-ball. The ploy paid off, as Arsenal was never able to get through the congested midfield area with purpose.
The home side looked well-drilled defensively and whenever the Gunners threatened, the former forced the latter into unprofitable positions.
BATE was playing their first competitive game of 2019 and yet they managed to shut Arsenal out with aplomb. Thus, the victory is much more impressive than what the average fan might see.
In a season where the Gunners have struggled for clean sheets, BATE just churned one out with minimal fuss.