Arsenal 6-0 BATE Borisov: Emphatic Europa League rout - but questions need to be asked about official attendance figures
PUBLISHED: 21:54 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 22:45 07 December 2017
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Arsenal beat BATE Borisov 6-0 in the Europa League at the Emirates on Thursday.
First half goals from Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere put the Gunners 3-0 up at the break before Walcott squared for Evgeni Berezkin to slot past his own keeper to make it 4-0. Olivier Giroud then made it 5-0 after being made to re-take his penalty before Mohamed Elneny made it 6-0.
It was a good result on a cold North London evening before Christmas when you could have expected a few fans to swerve the match and stay in the convivial surroundings of a warm pub, take part in Christmas shopping or simply stay at home.
The few hundred Borisov fans who made the trip - or who were expats in London attending the match - also deserve credit for making the effort, along with those hardy souls in the home areas who used their season tickets.
But the real talking point was the fact Arsenal Football Club announced the official attendance as 54,648.
Because judging by the huge swathes of empty seats there were fewer than half that number.
If Arsenal are to have any credibility when it comes to the importance of announcing attendances then they have to start confirming the numbers of supporters present at the stadium.
Otherwise, as social media confirmed once the figure was released, this proud club will be subject to mockery and derision on a huge scale – because this correspondent has seen bigger crowds at the Emirates for FA Youth Cup matches.
As it was those present did enjoy Debuchy’s cleanly-struck right-footed opener in the 11th minute which flew across BATE goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski – which was his first for the club since scoring against Liverpool three years ago. The goal was also the club’s 100th of 2017.
Despite constant Arsenal pressure the second did not come until eight minutes before half-time through Theo Walcott after he slotted home after a driving run into the box from Danny Welbeck.
Wilshere then made it 3-0 with a neat turn and powerful shot inside the box after linking well with Walcott two minutes before the break.
Arsene Wenger’s men were relentless after the interval with the fourth arriving when Walcott powered down the right flank before squaring the ball into the box. Unfortunately for Borisov Berezkin made a strong connection to send it past his keeper for an own goal and 4-0 – making it two assists and a goal for Walcott.
Giroud then retook his 64th minute penalty to make it 5-0 before Mohamed Elneny struck a curling shot to make it 6-0.
It was a good night for those who made the effort to attend. For those who didn’t who cold perhaps understand their reluctance to come along.
But what you can’t understand is Arsenal’s stubborn insistence is basing their official attendance figures on tickets sold rather than those through the turnstiles – because it makes a mockery of this proud club when fewer than half the sanitised figure actually make it to N5.