Walcott to the fore for Arsenal

Arsenal's Theo Walcott scoring the first of his two goals against Bate Borisov at the Borisov Arena in Belarus on Thursday. The Gunners came away 4-2 winners.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott scoring the first of his two goals against Bate Borisov at the Borisov Arena in Belarus on Thursday. The Gunners came away 4-2 winners.PHOTO: REUTERS.

LONDON • To butcher a phrase Arsene Wenger coined many years ago, if you eat caviar every day, sometimes it is not so bad to return to sausages.

After all those seasons of Champions League, Arsenal have rather taken to life in the Europa League.

It is not always easy to get the blend right with a reshuffled team, a mix of older pros and kids desperate for opportunities. But Arsenal got stuck into their sausages on Thursday, established enough "cohesion" to please the manager, and ended up having the better of bundles of chances, as they beat Bate Borisov 4-2 in Belarus.

It is to the credit of the senior players who did not take this game lightly that they are coasting Group H without being wholly convincing.

Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are two of the club's longest-serving players and they created the platform to help Arsenal secure maximum points from their European outings so far.

Walcott netted twice, Olivier Giroud, another of the senior performers, slotted in his 100th goal for the club and Rob Holding was also on target.

"He fights until the end. He's on his way back to his best and showed that," said Wenger about Wilshere, who has been blighted by injuries and is out of contract next summer.

Wenger's side beat Cologne 3-1 at home in their first outing a fortnight ago and the German side lost again on Thursday, going down 1-0 at home to Red Star Belgrade.

Ronald Koeman delivered a scathing assessment of Everton's Europa League 2-2 draw with Apollon Limassol, as he accused them of being scared to play football and being "in a difficult situation".

A point at home to the lowest-ranked team in Group E, following a 3-0 defeat away by Atalanta, means Everton have made the worst ever start to a Europa League group campaign by an English team.

Koeman again blamed a lack of confidence.

"I cannot say they are not running or fighting but they are afraid of playing forward," said the manager.

"It is in the head of the players. We know the fans like us to go forward, not back, back, back. It was difficult to create chances."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Walcott to the fore for Arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe