The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Arsenal v BATE Borisov preview

We finish our Europa League group-stage campaign with a match against BATE Borisov at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox analyses our opponents’ strengths, dangermen and areas we can target.


Alyaksandr Yermakovich is a popular figure at BATE – after 10 years as a player between 1998 and 2008, he retired to become the club’s assistant before stepping up to the top job in 2013. He’s won five straight league titles, and recorded some impressive European results, like a 2-1 victory against Athletic Bilbao in 2014, and a 3-2 win over Roma the next season.


Yermakovich will deploy a standard 4-2-3-1 system, which will look more like 4-4-1-1 for long periods, with the attacking midfielders expected to get through their share of defensive work. 


BATE boast some truly dangerous attacking midfielders. Right-sided Mikhail Gordeichuk is a diminutive, talented player with a fine goalscoring record in the Belarusian top-flight, who regularly arrives at the far post when the ball is on the other flank. On the left, Ihar Stasevich is more an up-and-down wide midfielder who can dribble dangerously on the break. The side’s most talented player is Mirko Ivanic, who wears the No 10 shirt. The Montenegro international is tricky in possession and regularly fouled by opponents, is capable of shooting from long range, and can also break into the box to provide a headed threat when the ball is wide. 


Right-back Alexei Rios has enjoyed an outstanding Europa League campaign, regularly storming forward on the overlap before swinging deep, curling crosses into the box. He’s managed three assists so far with his pinpoint crosses, and should be considered one of BATE’s main threats – although he can be exposed defensively against quick dribblers.


BATE’s set-piece defending throughout this Europa League campaign has been questionable, while In goal, Denis Scherbitskiy looks nervous with the ball at his feet, and made a dreadful error for a Theo Walcott goal in the reverse fixture.

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