A youthful Arsenal team weathered the storm in Belarus, as Arsenal came out 4-2 winners against BATE Borisov in the second game of their Europa League qualifying campaign in what was an entertaining and experimental game.

On a night that seen Olivier Giroud join the ranks of Arsenal’s goal scoring elites by netting his one hundredth Gunner goal from the penalty spot to seal the win in the Borisov Stadium, a squad short on starting players did well to ensure the side have achieved maximum points from Europe fixtures so far, following the 3-1 Emirates win against Cologne a fortnight ago.

The victory seemed ensure early on, with Arsenal scoring three goals within the first half hour, the first two a result of a Theo Walcott brace and the 3rd goal being defender Rob Holding’s first for the club. The home team improved, however, following Holding’s goal, netting soon afterwards through attacking midfielder Mirko Ivanic.

At the beginning of the second half, Giroud put his name into the record books from the penalty spot, and even though BATE scored once more through Mikhail Gordeychuk, the win was secure.

Manager Arsene Wenger opted to test some of his younger players in the game in place of some of the players who played in the 2-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening, who remained at home, such as Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.

Youngsters Ainsley Maitland Niles, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock all started the game, with the former two playing as wingers assisting the defence, and Willock playing the majority of the game as an attacking minded midfielder.

Also seeing some playing time was Marcus McGuane and Edward Nketiah, who both seen cameos towards the end of the match.

Once the game kicked-off, Arsenal came out of the traps flying, with Walcott getting his name on the scoresheet before the tenth minute. Jack Wilshire broke free, lining the forward up to place a neat header into the net.

Walcott’s second was mainly the result of calamitous goalkeeping error from Denis Scherbatski, who dropped a clanger to allow the Englishman to net his 107th goal in an Arsenal shirt; which was quickly followed by Holding’s first for the club, a deft shin by the clearly ecstatic young defender to put Arsenal 3 to the good.

BATE, who former player for both clubs Aleksander Hleb said would be hugely anticipating this fixture, got the break they so desired when a spot of poor away defending allowed Ivanic to head past David Ospina, which was joyously received by the home crowd.

There was further reason for cheer later on when Mikhail Gordeichiuk found the net from close range, but this was after Giroud had put the game almost beyond doubt from the spot.

Walcott, who was on a hat-trick, stepped aside to allow the Frenchman to join him in the hallowed list of club centurion goal scorers, and after slotting the ball in calmly, it was clear he enjoyed the moment.

Wenger was full of praise for Giroud following the full-time whistle, immediately congratulating him saying “It is a remarkable achievement. He is in good company. When you play football, the most difficult thing to do is score goals and he scored 100 for us.”
One of the biggest positives of the night was the performance of midfielder Jack Wilshire, who did not put a foot wrong the whole night, as he put in a commanding display that inspires confidence as he continues his recovery – and hopeful resurgence – in an Arsenal shirt.

So, what’s next for Arsenal? Well, in terms of matches, it’s not long at all until they’re in action again, with an almost entirely different team expected to line up against Brighton in the Premier League at 12.00pm on Sunday.

In terms of Europa League football, Arsenal’s next two games come against the same opposition – Red Star Belgrade – who currently sit second in the group on 4 points, following a draw in the first fixture against BATE and an impressive away win in Cologne on Thursday.

If Arsenal are to win the tie, it is difficult to envision them not coming first place in the group and securing passage to the Europa League knock-out stages. If this is the case, fans can expect more experimental line-ups, which is always good, as, like tonight, new players will get an opportunity to shine in an Arsenal shirt.