Arsenal overturned their first leg deficit with a professional, if disjointed performance that was enough to comfortably see off BATE Borisov.
Our Europa League campaign remains intact after the significant wobble in the first leg, but Unai Emery saw his strong side come out victors, despite a few wobbles.
Arsenal lined up with as strong a side as possible, with the only exception being Sokratis, who was on the bench, with Mustafi partnering Koscielny at the back. Midfield could have been a little stronger too, with Torreira benched and Granit Xhaka alongside Matteo Guendouzi in the centre. Mesut Ozil finally started a game, and was with Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in supporting lone striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
We started off well, just like the first leg. An early chance for Iwobi forced a save from visiting keeper Scherbitski, then a minute later Ozil’s low ball in was flicked wide by a defender.
Only a minute later, we pulled level on aggregate.
This time it was Aubameyang who was the creator, and his attempted pass into the box was put into his own net by Volkov.
It was just the start we needed, and we weren’t content. We were pouring forward, and Iwobi nearly profited from a Xhaka pass but his shot went wide from a tight angle.
The pace of the game started to plateau a little, with Mkhitaryan’s close range shot and a screamer from Xhaka the only other action up until the half hour mark.
Then, two Auba chances in two minutes.
The first saw great work from the striker from Gabon, but his swivelled shot was saved. The second was a cross from iwobi which Auba got his head onto, but he could only direct the ball onto the roof of the net.
We should have been home and hosed, but we were wasteful. this time though, it wouldn't come back to haunt us.
Six minutes before half time, we went in front, and it was deserved.
It was a well taken corner that was floated in and Mustafi was unmarked and duly thumped his header past Scherbitski.
There was nothing of note before half time, and the second half started off cautiously, with no real chances carved out in the first ten or so minutes. There was a substitution though, and it was bad news as Koscielny limped off the field and was replaced by Sokratis. It looked like a minor knock at least, with Koscielny nursing an ice pack on the injury rather than heading straight down the tunnel.
We had to wait until the 60th minute until clear daylight was put between us and them, and it was sub Sokratis who grabbed it for us.
It was another corner too, this time the Greek man scored with a far post header.
Just what we needed.
We then brought on Torreira for Guendouzi in an effort to tighten things up. We did create another chance, with Auba bouncing an effort wide and therefore missing out on his goal.
It didn’t matter though. The only other notable action was a late sub appearance for latest signing Denis Suarez, and the final whistle soon blew, giving us progression - and a little redemption after last week.
Still, the win was expected. We have a real test this weekend, and we can’t afford to lose any more ground in the Premier League race. With only twelve games to go, every point is precious.
It’s a home win against a struggling side. Three days later we have an away game against Bournemouth. Things are hotting up.
Time to stand up and be counted.