BATE Borisov v Arsenal

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Club announcement

Complimentary coach travel for BATE Borisov trip

The club are pleased to offer complimentary coach travel from the centre of Minsk to Borisov Arena on matchday.

Due to security concerns and limited public transport options, it is highly recommended that supporters take advantage of the coach service between Minsk and Borisov. 

Coaches will be departing from: Concert Hall, Minsk, vulica Kastryčnickaja 5, at 5.30pm local time.

To board the coaches, fans should report to Concert Hall, Minsk for 5pm local time. 

Any fans that report after this time may not be able to board the coaches and will have to make their own way to the match. 

Expected journey time is 75 minutes. 

Contrary to the match against BATE Borisov during the 2017/18 season, there is no need for fans to book onto this service online.

To board the service, fans must be in possession of a valid match ticket for the AWAY end. 

Get the latest advice from the British Embassy in Minsk

Pre-Match Report

BATE Borisov v Arsenal: The Brief

Nine weeks after rounding off the group stage with a straightforward home win over Qarabag, we are back on the Europa League trail – and now there's no room for error.

The competition has entered the knockout stage, and 15-time Belarus champions BATE Borisov – for whom former Gunner Alex Hleb is back enjoying his fifth spell – lay in wait in the round of 32.

The match will be played in sub-zero temperatures just outside the capital Minsk, but this trip east shouldn't hold too many fears for the Gunners. Just last season we recorded a 4-2 group stage win here, which was followed by a 6-0 victory at the Emirates.

BATE reached this stage after finishing second in their group, behind Chelsea, and their win over PAOK on the final matchday to clinch qualification in December was their last competitive action in any competition – this is the close-season in Belarus.

So Arsenal are big favourites to earn a first-leg advantage on Valentine's Day, as Unai Emery looks to continue his love affair with the Europa League – a competition he won three years in a row with Sevilla.

As such he has named another strong squad in Europe – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka return after missing Saturday's win over Huddersfield – though there is no place for Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey or Sokratis.

Read on for our match preview, including Unai Emery's thoughts on the game, the latest team news, stats, and analysis of the opposition.

Breakdown - BATE
Cech quote - BATE
Travelling squad
Team News - Borisov
Dangerman - BATE
AN Live - Borisov

 

 

Press conference

'I don't think about whether it's my last game'

Cech

Last month Petr Cech announced he will bring an end to his glittering career in the summer, but as he prepares to take on BATE Borisov on Thursday, he said he is fully focussed on the next game, despite knowing each appearance draws him closer to his last.

"Yes it's right that it might be the last time in the competition," he said shortly after arriving in Minsk on Wednesday, "but I prepare with the team day-by-day. I don't think about whether it's my last game, competition or round or not. I prepare how I have my whole life, my whole career and obviously I want to give the best performance. I want to win with the team. My only concentration is to be ready for the game.

The Czech goalkeeper won the Europa League with Chelsea in 2012/13, one of 18 honours in his club career to date, yet he could still add to that before calling it a day at the end of the season.

"Of course, that would be an ideal scenario for me to finish in my career. We aim to win every game and improve step-by-step. For us as a club it's obviously very important for us to go as far as possible and if you win the Europa League it's a great memory for every player and secondly you can book your place in the Champions League. So as you can see, there is a lot to play for."

Press conference

Emery - Our options to reach the Champions League

Unai Emery

We had two avenues open to reach the Champions League when the season began, and as the campaign enters the second half, both possibilities are still very much alive.

We are currently just one point behind Manchester United in the race for the top four in the Premier League, but the winners of the Europa League also earn a place in the continent's premier club competition.

After comfortably progressing through the group stage, we are now in the last 32 of the Europa League, with Emery stating it remains a big priority of the team.

"Our target is clear," he said in the pre-match press conference in Minsk on Wednesday. "That is to play next year in the Champions League. But we know it's not easy and we have two ways now. One is Europa League, but to win the Europa League is very difficult. We know it's a very big challenge in the last 32 against BATE Borisov and then other matches.

"But in the Premier League also we are with the possibility to take this position to play in the Champions League next year. Our challenge is to only think of the next game and the next game is tomorrow."

Gallery

First-team squad train ahead of BATE Borisov

Arsenal training session

We're back in Europa League action on Thursday, when we face BATE Borisov in the competition's last-32 stage.

Unai Emery's side had their final training session at London Colney before flying to Belarus on Wednesday afternoon. Our club photographers were also there and sent back these pictures:

Team news

Team news: Aubameyang, Ozil, Sokratis, Xhaka

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Here’s the latest update from our medical team ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with BATE Borisov.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
In full training.
 
Mesut Ozil
In full training.
 
Sokratis
In full training ahead of schedule.
 
Granit Xhaka
In full training.
 
Aaron Ramsey
Right knee. Being assessed ahead of BATE Borisov (a).
 
Hector Bellerin
Left knee. Recovering after surgery.
 
Rob Holding
Left knee. Recovering after surgery.
 
Danny Welbeck
Right ankle. Recovering after surgery.

Press conference

Emery and Cech in Belarus: every single word

Cech and Emery

Our Europa League campaign resumes in Belarus on Thursday, when we take on BATE Borisov in the last-32.

On the night before the game, head coach Unai Emery was joined by Petr Cech for the pre-match press conference, here's a full transcript…

on squad selection…
UE: Good evening. We are here with the players that I think are okay to play. The players who I don’t take in the squad are Aaron Ramsey, because he hasn’t trained with us, Sokratis, who started to train with us yesterday and today, but I don’t think it’s enough. Mesut is the same and after being sick, Aubameyang started training on Monday, yesterday and today and I think he is okay for the match.

on the danger of BATE…
UE: (We treat them) with respect, first. We can speak about two different situations from them. One is last year they played here and Arsenal won 4-2. The second is thinking about this year when they played in the groups, for example against Chelsea they lost one 1-0 but they had chances to score and to draw in this match. They are not in competition in the league but they prepared also in pre-season. We know they are a very organised team. I prefer to think they can take their best performance against us tomorrow with good players and their motivation is going to be very high. For this competition it’s the last 32 and they want to do well like us, respecting us. For us it’s to prepare and start this last 32 with a very big motivation and ambition to do something important.

on whether he savours these moments now he knows he will retire in the summer...
PC: You are right that it might be the last time I am in the competition but I prepare with the team day-by-day. I don't think about whether it's my last game, competition or round or not. I prepare how I have my whole life, my whole career and obviously I want to give the best performance. I want to win with the team. My only concentration is to be ready for the game.

on the transition between the group stage and knockout stage...
PC: We have to play well and seriously in the group to qualify for the play-off stage and we had a group with good teams. We had to prepare for every game and over the course of the group we had good performances, twice against Sporting, with Vorskla we played some good games in difficult conditions so I think this can help us to go through to the next round. Obviously we are the favourites for the tie but you have to do it on the pitch, be focused home and away if you want to progress. BATE are involved in European competition every year and have a lot of experience playing in Europe so it is not going to be easy.

on whether Denis Suarez is ready to start...
UE: First I am thinking for the best performance tomorrow with the best players. His adaptation is good but it needs time. He is okay to start being involved in the first XI but also to be in the bench so that later in the match he can play. This adaptation is important for us and then also he can be playing, but he needs to earn it, little-by-little, to take minutes, confidence and rhythm with us. These can be the two possibilities.

on the pitch and conditions...
UE: We played against Vorskla in Kiev and it was cold and snowing and here there is more I think. It's not an excuse for us, the weather or the pitch. A white pitch is okay, after that we play 90 minutes and it's the same for them as us.

on signing off with the Europa League trophy...
PC: Of course, that would be an ideal scenario for me to finish in my career. We prepare every day for every competition and I think this is what we are aiming for. We aim to win every game and improve step-by-step. For us as a club it's obviously very important for us to go as far as possible and if you win the Europa League it's a great memory for every player and secondly you can book your place in the Champions League. So as you can see, there is a lot to play for.

on whether this is our best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season...
UE: My thought is that every match is a big challenge. In the Premier League, Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and now in the Europa League. Our target is clear. That is to play next year in the Champions League. But we know it's not easy and we have two ways now. One is Europa League, but to win the Europa League is very difficult. We know it's a very big challenge in the last 32 against BATE Borisov and then other matches. But in the Premier League also we are with the possibility to take this position to play in the Champions League next year. But our challenge is to only think of the next game and the next game is tomorrow. We have to continue working and improving things collectively and individually for us. We know we need to work hard, to improve and to be better towards this way in two competitions.