Arsenal v BATE Borisov

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Wenger on Dragomir, Gilmour, McGuane, Dasilva

No fewer than 846 players have represented our first team - and that number could rise on Thursday night.

Charlie Gilmour, Vlad Dragomir and Marcus McGuane have travelled to Belarus ahead of our Europa League game against BATE Borisov, along with Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Josh Dasilva, who all featured against Doncaster Rovers last week.

“We see a lot of young players, they have a good future here, that’s my opinion, but you need to develop them in a lot of areas,” Per Mertesacker said at Wednesday’s pre-match press conference. “To train with us, to travel with us, it’s the big time for such a young group. But it’s now up to them to resist those pressure situations.”

So what can Arsène Wenger tell us about those young players?

“Gilmour is a defender or central midfielder,” the boss said. “McGuane is a defensive midfielder, and overall he can play as a wing-back or even a centre back in training. Josh Dasilva is a left wing-back or a left-centre back. Vlad Dragomir is a Romanian boy, he was with us for a few years, he’s a No 10, Wilshere-style, left-footed, a creative player.”

The Breakdown

The Breakdown: BATE Borisov v Arsenal

We return to Europa League action on Thursday when we face the Belarusian champions, BATE Borisov, at the Borisov Arena.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox examines our opponents in detail to pinpoint their strengths, their dangerman and the areas we can exploit.

Alyaksandr Yermakovich has been at BATE almost as long as Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal – albeit in various capacities. After a 10-year period as a midfielder ended in 2008, he immediately became assistant manager, before being appointed to the top job in 2013. A five-time league winner as a player, he managed four straight titles before slipping to third last time out.
Expect a standard 4-2-3-1 system, which will appear more like 4-4-1-1 for long periods when BATE are defending. Both full-backs can push forward well, with the holding midfielders playing covering roles.
BATE are a good technical side, capable of long periods of possession play while also offering a counter-attacking threat. Mikhail Gordeichuk, who starts on the right flank, tops the goalscoring charts in Belarus.
Montenegro international Mirko Ivanic, who wears the No 10 shirt, is a creative, intelligent and two-footed playmaker who assisted Nikolai Signevich’s headed equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Red Star Belgrade with a lovely right-wing cross. 
Against Red Star, BATE’s defenders seemed terrified by any kind of pace and retreated quickly towards their own goal, which in turn created too much space between the lines – Arsenal may be able to exploit this.


'BATE are strong... we'll need a good display'

Arsene Wenger was in genial mood at his pre-match press conference at a cinema in Minsk on Wednesday evening as he discussed a range of subjects.

But when it came to the match against BATE Borisov - who have won the league in Belarus for the past 11 seasons - he insists his squad will have to be at their best.

“I’ve been in this country before, I came with the French national team,” the Arsenal manager said. “They played against Belarus in June when I was on holiday. They have always technically had very good sides, and overall I remember France had a very difficult game. 

“We know [BATE’s strength], we watched them yesterday. They are a team with good quality, technically strong, so we will need a good performance to have a chance.”

Wenger has named a travelling squad mixed with more experienced names such as Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker, alongside rising stars such as Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock. So what is the thinking behind that?

“I said on Monday night after the game that I would play an experienced team with a young bench, and that is what I did,” he said. “We have a very tight schedule and it is an important game, and that’s why there is only one or two young players who will start the game.”

Europa League

First-team train ahead of BATE Borisov game

The team train before playing BATE Borisov

The boys were hard at work at London Colney on Wednesday morning before heading to the airport for their flight to Belarus.

We will face BATE Borisov in our second match in Group H of the Europa League, and Arsene Wenger and his staff put the team through their paces one last time in an intense outdoor session.

Our club photographers were there and sent back these images.