A mix-and-match Arsenal side strolled to a 6-0 victory over BATE Borisov at the Emirates on Thursday night, with a resurgent Jack Wilshere bagging his first club goal since May 2015.
As expected, the attendance for the game was rather less than the 54,000 tickets apparently shifted by Arsenal. However, those who did turn up on a chilly north London evening were treated to a one-sided contest, with the dominant hosts impressing against a poor BATE side.
The opening goal came after just 11 minutes when Mathieu Debuchy netted with a cracking strike – the Frenchman’s first goal for the Gunners since December 2014, some 1,082 days ago.
On his first appearance in six weeks, Theo Walcott captained the side on the night and made it 2-0 on 37 minutes with a classy controlled finish to cap off a penetrating Danny Welbeck run.
The hosts would go in 3-0 up at the break, courtesy of a thumping finish from Wilshere, his first in two and a half years, after some sharp footwork in the box.
More good work from Wilshere ended in a rather well-struck own-goal from Denis Polyakov.
Just after the hour-mark, Olivier Giroud converted a spot-kick to make it 5-0 after Walcott was fouled in the box.
The penalty goal came at the second time of asking for the Frenchman, after his first successful effort was ruled out after player encroachment into the box.
Arsenal’s sixth and final goal of the game was another superb effort, with Mohamed Elneny brilliantly curling home after being set up by the fantastic Wilshere.
Finishing comfortably top of Group H, four points clear of Red Star Belgrade, and with the likes of Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund waiting for them in the knockout stages.
He may only have six months left of his contract, but if Wilshere continues to perform like this when called upon by Arsene Wenger, the midfielder could still have a future with both the Gunners and England.