BATE Borisov 1-0 Arsenal: Gunners suffer first-leg defeat on embarrassing European night
Photo: Getty Images - MB Media

BATE Borisov 1-0 Arsenal: Gunners suffer first-leg defeat on embarrassing European night

Arsenal struggled at both ends of the pitch as they were defeated in the first leg of their Europa League tie with BATE Borisov. 

Matt Dawson

Arsenal's struggles under Unai Emery in recent months continued with an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at the hands of BATE Borisov

The Gunners arrived in Belarus as clear favourites but failed to create many clear openings as a single goal from Stanislav Dragun gave the hosts the advantage going into the second leg. 

It was a lifeless performance from Arsenal whose night was made worse after Alexandre Lacazette's red card late on. 

Story of the game

On a pitch which looked more suitable for growing vegetables on than playing football, this one was never going to be a classic and the performance from Arsenal showed as much.

They have struggled for creativity this season but this pitch made things even harder for Emery's men who had left their most creative player Mesut Ozil at home.

The saga with the German seemingly has no end and with Aaron Ramsey also missing, the burden fell on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, recently back from injury, to be the main creative hub.

But it was Lacazette who looked most likely in the first half for the Gunners. He headed a chance over the bar from close range and just failed to take a ball from Matteo Guendouzi into his stride when he'd have been through on goal.

The North London side came into this tie having kept five clean sheets in their last five Europa League matches but they weren't to make it a record-breaking six in the competition.

On the verge of half time, Dragun headed the hosts in front. Nacho Monreal gave away a free-kick on the right-hand side and the resulting ball in from Igor Stasevich was too inviting for Dragun whose looping header found its way past Petr Cech.

There had been warning signs prior to that, with two opportunities falling to debutant Nemanja Milic. He found space at the near post twice but on both occasions fired wide in a first half where Arsenal failed to get going.

The second 45 minutes didn't see things get much better for Arsenal. Lacazette had a goal disallowed for offside after finding the net from Sead Kolasinac's cross before the Frenchman's night got worse five minutes from time as he was shown a straight red card.

The striker tussled with Aleksandar Filipovic just over the halfway line and after being fouled swung his elbow in the direction of the BATE players face. The result was damning for Lacazette. 

It was an embarrassing night for the Gunners who rarely had a sighter of goal. Kolasinac volleyed wide on 72 minutes whilst the introductions of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lucas Torreira and Denis Suarez from the bench failed to spark a revival. 

Emery's side will still be favourites come the second leg at the Emirates but this was a night to forget for the team from Islington. 


Arsenal's creative struggles 

At the moment it seems Arsenal have issues at both ends of the pitch. Not only do they continue to concede goals but they're struggling to create chances too. Against a side such as BATE, a team the Gunners beat 6-0 in the Europa League last campaign, this should have been a walk in the park. There was no Ozil again whilst Mkhitaryan wasn't up to scratch. The likes of Alex Iwobi were rarely afforded time in behind either. 

Defensive issues continue to loom large for Gunners

This was a relatively quiet night for the Arsenal defence but they still managed to concede. A careless free-kick was given away for the goal and then the marking from the resulting delivery into the box wasn't good enough. The Gunners had lined up with three centre-backs and two wing-backs but that wasn't a tactical decision that paid off. 

Hleb faces ex-club

A lot of the pre-match talk was about former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb. The Belarussian was at the club during fonder days, having played in a Champions League final for the Gunners. Although the result may have been one to remember for BATE his performance wasn't too influential, being withdrawn just before the hour mark.