Arsenal suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at BATE Borisov on Thursday night in the Europa League last 32. The first leg defeat in Belarus was compounded by Alexandre Lacazette’s late dismissal. Overall, it was a miserable night for the Gunners, who had headed into the game as massive favourites to win the game and the tie.
Should have been a comfortable win
It would not have been harsh to think that Arsenal should be beating a team from Belarus in a comfortable manner. BATE are a solid team, but they have very little pedigree in European football and the Gunners are until recently a team accustomed to playing in the Champions League.
I doubt many, even of a Bate persuasion, expected their team to produce such a result against Unai Emery’s side. However, they produced a good display to gain a first-leg lead into the second leg.
Arsenal fielded a strong team
While many fans and pundits may have taken an Arsenal win for granted, Gunners boss Emery did not. The former Europa League winning boss named a strong starting line-up, with just two changes from their win at Huddersfield in their last outing.
It seems that the players did underestimate their Belarussian opponents, though, as it was a poor display from the Gunners. Maybe as many believed, the players thought it would be an easy game and they would just have to turn up to record a victory.
Arsenal have played some poor teams in Europe this season and not produced such a display as on Thursday night. A third away defeat in four games in all competitions shows that the Gunners players have a weak mentality. If Emery’s team are going to win the Europa League then they will have to up their game.
A wakeup call for the Gunners
Arsenal are favourites at odds of 1/7 to beat BATE in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium. In truth, the Gunners are a different team on home soil to when they are playing away from home.
It would be a massive surprise if Unai Emery’s side does not book their place in the last 16 by turning this tie around. However, the first leg defeat will serve as a good lesson to the Gunners players about complacency and attitude.
If they keep playing as they did on Thursday night, then they have very little chance of going all the way in this season’s Europa League.
Where Arsenal complacent against BATE Borisov?